In the Chamber -- Grant Mitchell's Blog

Let's reframe "green"

Posted 4/22/2009 by Senator Grant Mitchell

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I just read a very interesting interview of Thomas Friedman in the latest issue of Newsweek. Thomas Friedman is a widely respected writer who is a columnist with the New York Times and the author of books and articles on changing international relations. Interestingly, he makes the point that if oil were $10 a barrel, Middle Eastern instability would pretty much evaporate because dictators would not have the money for armies and weapons that give them to confidence to posture and threaten.

But in this interview, he talks of how the use of the term “green” in describing environmental policy is a mistake. In fact, he says that this term was coined by the right wing to diminish and denigrate environmental initiative. Instead he argues that environmental policy is the basis of any successful future economies.

I cannot agree more. It will be the development of new environmental technologies that will spur the investment and efficiencies that will drive the next industrial revolution. This will not make economies less competitive; it will make them far more competitive. Moreover, not fixing climate change will create a level of turmoil that surely will damage economies.

There is much evidence that companies that pursue environmental reform in the conduct of their business greatly reduce costs, enhance efficiency overall and get greater productivity from their employees. There is nothing like doing something beyond just making money that has a way of inspiring people to greater things.

This government continuously argues that we have to wait for China and India to get on board or there is no point in starting. This argument should be made to pale in comparison with the case that if we start before them we will have technologies to sell them when they realize the economic advantages of effective environmental policy, in particular dealing with climate change.

To be successful in dealing with climate change and other critical environmental issues, we have to reframe “green” as an economic issue. Western economies need to lead the way.

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