Green_bigAccording to the International Labour Organization, switching to a greener world economy could generate up to 60 million new jobs over the next 20 years, and lift tens of millions more out of poverty. Renewable energies already generate 13 percent of the world’s power and $200 billion in annual investments.

Not everybody agrees, however, on the power of going green. Poland’s Chamber of Commerce argues compliance with measures proposed in the EU’s low-carbon roadmap could slice 10 percent off the country’s GDP by 2020 and spark a 400 percent increase in electricity prices.

So will going Green harm or hinder the European economy? How can European green-tech companies keep their competitive edge as the likes of China and Brazil speed up development of their eco-industries?

At the October 11 State of Europe roundtable organised by Friends of Europe, we asked two leading members of Germany’s Green party to reply to this question from Debating Europe commenter Darius:

Green growth could bring a range of economic benefits to the European Union. Do you think that “greening” the EU could help the economy recover?

Here’s the reply from Manuel Sarrazin, Spokesman on European Union Affairs of the Greens/Alliance 90 in Germany’s Bundestag:

Manuel Sarrazin pointed to Germany’s example where jobs are being created through the switch to renewable energy and green technologies. Greater energy efficiency could help southern European countries cut their debt by reducing fuel costs, he added, but more investment from the EU budget is needed to help southern countries develop the sector.

Rebecca Harms, Co-Chair of the Group of European Greens-European Free Alliance in the European Parliament, stressed the significance of job creation through a “Green New Deal”:

Rebecca Harms said politicians need to match words with deeds, and get beyond the fear that imposing targets aimed at tackling climate change will hinder economic growth. A focus on climate-friendly, energy efficient programmes could go a long way to solving Europe’s economic problems, she said.

What do YOU think? Can Europe pull itself out of the crisis by going green? Or will strict EU environmental standards push up prices and put European companies at a disadvantage against global competitors? Are cash-strapped governments right to cut subsidies to renewable energies? Do falling investments mean Europe is losing its edge in a thriving world green-tech market? Let us know your thoughts in the form below and we’ll take your comments to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

31 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Bußmann Dang

    Try to debate this plan to the leading members, it will help the several nation according to this idea, only the problem is….every country is handling its oun summary weather, especially in Europe and in America, weather were devided into 4 sseasons, so it is really need to have an” ARTIFICIAL Plantage”, which made of especial soil, and cover, and it should really discuss about this case for the future security, just to recover and meet the human economics…around the world.

  2. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    Hello,Yes absoluetly yes.Because the economy of EU leans as base to the quality, like China not to the quantity, therefore the greening and aesthetic production will spur European.But the quality of result is a whole and totality. ?t must not be like my cases where in Second Section of ECHR application number 23064/08. Because actually between Mercedes and the quality of Justice is not any different.

  3. avatar
    Yuan - Renminbi | The New Reserve Currency

    China is improving quality-wise. They will not continue to produce based on quantity only, it is now time for them to innovate and increase the added value of their goods. Future innovations will come from China. Technology will come from China. Europe has no chance to compete against China anymore. Because they do not have the necessary human resources.

  4. avatar
    Turean Rozalia Gyöngyi

    China is quantity-producer, and Chinese products are very inferior quality, so result of their production dangerous-notably increase quantitatively the EU-junk, nearby untaxed capital-export

  5. avatar
    Laszlo Nagy

    If the Polish calculations are correct, 400% sounds like a big no-go for that roadmap. With increased cost of electricity, probably like with the price increase of fuel, everything will cost more, very high inflation, and the population will probably be quite nervous about it. Even if the theories of human-induced global warming are true. Probably the polish energy system is not very different form that of other countries.

  6. avatar
    Malcolm Seychell

    If europe wants to survive it has to move again to the right and end the super socialism within itself

  7. avatar
    Georgi Hrisstof

    Зелените смятат,че са носители и представители на лесни политически послания.Винаги застават на удобни и “народни” изказвания с претенция друг да свърши работата.Разбира се с някои изключения,нито Светът,нито Европа се състезават да изправят Земята до критична точка,като без разум третират ресурсите и.. Антропогенни грешки могат да се поправят от Антропогенни фактори ,или построеното от човек,може да бъде поправено.
    Европа трябва да развива паралелно своите източници на енергия.Да разработва нови ресурси и да предлага решения.
    Когато имаме добри практики и достъп до комфорт,то струва скъпо!
    Когато ни липсват,то ще струва най-скъпо!!
    Пътя е верен и правилен ..,защото и Рим не е построен за един ден!!!

  8. avatar
    Nikolai Holmov

    Poland have a very robust position on carbon reduction. To the point that they threatened to veto any further reductions set by the EU at the beginning of the year.

    And Poland has a point. If you are a developing nation rather than a developed nation, it is far more expensive to catch up without using older and cheaper historical methods that were used by others.

    As for “greening the economy” as a way to create jobs – well any national/international scheme that aims to replace huge existing infrastructure will create jobs – until that infrastructure is replaced and then only maintenance of the new infrastructure remains – when jobs in that sector will necessarily decline leaving us searching for the next “something of the economy” to create jobs 50 – 100 years from now.

    Whether or not Chinese products are currently inferior or not, that will not always be the case. The Chinese economy will eventually develop to the point it no longer adds value (through extremely cheap labour) and then it will move into R&D far more heavily than it is now – handing the mantle of cheap labour to Africa.

    At that point the EU will not be up against China as a mass production economic threat, but a threat where it will equal EU R&D output at a very high standard.

    At that point the EU really will have a significant challenger.

  9. avatar
    Nikolay Petrov Petrov

    No, green energy is many many times more expensive than nuclear ebergy for poorest in EU bulgarians where average income is 300 euros monthly only and an electricity bill in winter could be 100 euros monthly for exploitation from electric companies own, by the way, by western, for example – austrian, firms…

  10. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    A Europa tem que apostar no futuro o futuro é o meio ambiente as energias renovaveis estão a mostrar aos politicos que fazem crescer o emprego e riquesa ao pais a UE tem que reduzir o monopólio das grandes empresas de eletricidade que hoje tem o mercado europeu apostar nas económias verdes

  11. avatar
    Capitaine Euro

    Mr Yuan-Renminbi reminds me of Cats in the Japanese game “Zerowing”. “All your base are belong to us. You have no chance to survive. Make your time.” As others have pointed out, it’s not quantity that counts, it’s quality: and, whilst China’s quality has improved dramatically over the last 20-30 years, it has done so from a very low starting point.

  12. avatar
    John Patrick

    western electric is also expensive depending were you live, and eastern eu countries also charge a lot we all belong to the eu its not just bulgaria but everyone is suffering instead of blaming the west look for a better way there is no east eu or west eu it is just the eu

  13. avatar

    It is important to separate distinct issues here. GDP growth, recovery from debt, falling unemployment and rising incomes, would be supported by cheaper energy, or productivity-enhancing (good commercial return) investments.

    Against that, the environment matters. Greenhouse gas emissions must be rapidly reduced, if we are to reduce the pace and impact of climate change.

    Quite clearly, while itself crucial, “green” is almost diametrically opposed to short term economic interests.

    There is some room for compromise – there is a subset of green investment which has robust returns:
    – free planning systems and encourage investment in hydroelectric plants (especially in Eastern Europe, where there is enormous untapped potential)

    – invest in inter-connectors between national grids (and spot markets), to reduce the cost of load balancing and reduce the amounts of fuel wasted

    – encourage tougher building standards, requiring higher standards of insulation, natural lighting and ventilation

    – accelerate the tightening of car fleet exhaust emission restrictions. Car manufacturers are cutting capacity anyway right now – send the signal and they will have to shift to smaller engined/ more fuel efficient vehicles.

    – expedite the construction of new gas pipelines (interconnectors within Europe and connecting Europe to Russia/ Central Asia). Facilitating the shift from coal & lignite to natural gas is the single quickest and most profitable reduction in carbon emissions available to Europe today.

    Indeed, we may soon be switching from oil to natural gas for vehicles (with vast potential for emission reductions). And in any case, gas has low fixed costs, which makes it an ideal source of load-balancing and makes wind and solar power far more viable.

    – encourage countries with feed-in tariffs to offer their subsidies to other EU countries rather than their own. For example, German environmentalists might want to subsidize solar energy in Cyprus, Malta, the Cannaries or Italy rather than in Bavaria (thereby offsetting far more CO2 emissions with the same volume of subsidy).

    Against this, there are areas where we really should consider exploiting the environmental-GDP trade-off to support European economies in the present fiscal crisis:

    – we should delay by a decade all requirements for existing but not-fully-depricated coal power plants to be closed (while we should be investing in gas pipelines today, it may still be years before coal is fully replaced).

    – we should delay by a decade most regulation on industrial emissions – encourage chemical plants, etc to remain open and continue paying wages/ taxes.

    – most countries should probably reduce levels of subsidy for renewable energy. In the midst of a debt crisis and with supressed living standards, this is probably the wrong time to subsidize mass-deployment of (still expensive) wind, wave and solar.

    – we should entirely abolish the ethanol mandate (which presently requires that all petrol be a 2% ethanol mix by April 2013 and 5% in 2014 and 7% in 2015). Ethanol is extremely expensive, and isn’t any greener than regular petrol. Elimination of the mandate must be a priority, both for the environment and for growth.

  14. avatar
    Davey Brown

    The only thing that will improve the economies of Europe is the dismantling of the EU. It is the cause of all economic woes and its ludicrous and unworkable single currency is an unmitigated disaster. You want trade to improve? Have trade deals without the imbeciles in Brussels acting as a dead weight on enterprise.

  15. avatar
    Tiago Pinto

    how can iceland be giving democracy lessons to the EU by crowdsourcing it’s constitution? that along with the nobel prize should make leaders of the EU project rethink their aproach and thinking and if it changed since feudalistic times. bold times require bold solutions.

  16. avatar
    Peter Schellinck

    Wether we like it or not “greening” the economy is a natural development. What will help to spur the European recovery is innovation and education. Every and each individual with which ever color is born with a green talent. Our system has to nourish it and each place on earth is a laboratory. Maybe we need to “green” the politicians by bring in more youth and women.

    • avatar

      I think America is in far greater deganr of being Islamised then Europe. America has been an open society – open in the sense of being made of several distinct nationalities and ethnicities. Europeqan nations are not so, and can call one their very long ties to the land. This makes all the difference, and Muslims know it.

  17. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    No, I do not think so. What is the point to demand all companies and all activities in Europe to be green, if we keep importing all goods made in the BRIC countries, ignoring completely all standards. This is hypocrisy. This is putting the European workers out of the work and only benefiting the BRIC and the multinationals that only close down their factories in Europe and re-establish them in China or India. When is Europe going to stop of being naive?

  18. avatar
    john bevegaard.

    hi o yes of course eu should go green and we need europe to be competetive in the future with usa china india etc and. we also need a more positive outlook on the future all people are talking about the crisis and unemployment etc yes its a lot of problems but europe needs a more positive plan and an optimistic politisians who can dream eu need a new new deal like fdr roosevelt more stimulus to the economy. and we need postive dreams and a new future for our eu. europe should be a beacon for the world a soft power socialliberal and with strong cultures pullintg together. but critical is that we get more stimulus to the new green technology .its the future for eu and it will be cheaper and more beneficial for eu in the future will increase our competetivness in the world. eu must go create a more green ecofriendly sustainable economy . its very much needed in the southern countries loilike italy spain and greece. more recycling ex the garbage . bottles cans everything must be recycled recycle more in europe!. also i belireve inn a strong eu force to to accompany eu with nato but w3e need to have it leane and mean more collABORAtions in purchases of weapons etc will bring the costs down but eu needs a strong force to protect our interests as well. the nordic battlegroup is great for ex. anyway we need a sstrong and green democrastic europe in our world positive dreams and bright future for europe !!!!. johnnyb .

  19. avatar
    Olivier Laurent

    If you need subsidies, how many jobs would it destroy at the same time? Because to pay subsidies you need first to levy taxes.

  20. avatar
    Eduardo Barroso

    Too much thinking on the environment here in Europe while chinese products and others flood our markets with very cheap prices (unbeatable) and nobody care about how this products affect the world environment and OUR ECONOMY…think a little…

  21. avatar
    Eduardo Barroso

    Europe implement very good environmental laws in my point of view but forget to pressure other countries to do so, and in the end we loose a lot of money and the environment is being degraded somewhere else!!!

  22. avatar
    Massimo Santambrogio

    We are already leader in the world in green economy and life’s quality but we have to defend those values from unfair competition

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