Can green policies boost Europe’s economy? There seems to be a feeling that going ‘green’ inevitably means hamstringing business and industry while developing countries belch out pollution and gain a competitive advantage. Outgoing US President Trump, for example, has misleadingly labelled climate change a “very, very expensive form of tax” and said green policies benefit China because “they burn everything you could burn; they couldn’t care less… they can undercut us on price.” Why are so many politicians wedded to the idea that older, more polluting, less efficient industries are somehow better for the economy?

What do our readers think? We had a comment come in from Dionis, who is worried that a green recovery might disadvantage Europe economically compared to other regions of the world.

To get a response, we put Dionis’ comment to Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). What would she say to Dionis?

We also had a comment from Martijn making a similar argument: “What’s the point [in a European green recovery]?! China and USA will never do same, so Europe is just weakening its own economy.”

To get a sense what the corporate world thinks of this question, we put Martijn’s comment to Balaji Ganapathy, Global Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Tata Consultancy Services, a multinational company that helps businesses with digital transformation and innovation. How would he respond?

Next up, we had a comment from Jana arguing that mainstream economists have finally abandoned the “myth” that sustainability and the economy are mutually exclusive. Is Jana right?

To get a response, we put Jana’s comment to Manfred Mühlberger, Chairman of the Board of Ecopreneur.eu, the European Sustainable Business Federation. What would he say?

Finally, how would Balaji Ganapathy from Tata Consultancy Services reply?

Is there a conflict between the economy and the environment? Would a green economic recovery weaken Europe’s economy compared to China and the USA? Do economists still believe that sustainability and the economy are mutually exclusive? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
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22 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Gabor

    Sure, there is a conflict! But worth mentioning, that studies show that making stuff greener does not result is less pollution, but instead it results more consumption and with that we end up with even more pollution. We would need to move away from the “consume more” dogma first. Make product more sustainable, maintainable so we don’t have to get a new item of everything a lot sooner, than it would make sense. Sure it means a decrease in sales, and that is the conflicting point. The economy is built in a way that it is either showing a positive or a negative trend, and companies will do anything it takes to keep the trend positive.

  2. avatar
    Prodan

    Or better since the biggest poluters are in southeastern Asia we stop trading with them until they fix polution. Read a study a couple of months ago that Thailand and China are the biggest poluters in the world compared to other countries

  3. avatar
    Erika

    Yes and to change this needs a whole new approach to consumerism and the products offered.Less waste and recycling is a good starting point and can be applied immediately to f.ex. textile industry.There is a new designer who creates fashion from recycled or rest materials…and there is so many new ideas out there.Of course one of the most important points is the overproduction of meat and the insane deforestation happening presently.Alternative products can bring a solution without making consumerism suffer…f.ex. new product can be created from recycled plastic
    pollution in the oceans.All it requires is a change of attitude from governments and global players. It is extremely urgent as we can not eat money if we do not have clean water or air.

  4. avatar
    Franck

    There is already a conflict between finance and (real) economy, so there will be an even greater conflict between finance and green economy, for sure.

  5. avatar
    Jevgeni

    Unfortunately, so. Profits over clean environment. And “green” and “sustainable” (whatever this word means) is actually not always good for environment.

  6. avatar
    Adrian

    There can be no “green” or “sustainable” under capitalism.
    And that’s a FACT. Always has been and always will.

    No EVs, no Elon Musk and bullshit “EU directive” will change that.

  7. avatar
    André

    L’écologie est un bienfait. Recycler , circuits courts…
    Suivre les imbéciles écolo est une catastrophe: remplacer les centrales nucléaires par des centrales au charbon ou au gaz, détruire la nature et les hommes du tiers-monde pour des panneaux photovoltaïques ou des éoliennes est non seulement idiot, c’est un crime. Idem pour les voitures électriques etc…

  8. avatar
    Ignace

    This fetish idea will completely destroy the European economy without any benefit for the planet. It only serves the messiah complex of the non elected EU leaders/ dictators.

  9. avatar
    Lou

    Debating “Europe” ? I’m sure you meant “EU”… Is this an attempt of confusing the audience ?
    For the sake of clarity one is a continent, the other is a supranational technocracy of mostly non elected “door-revolvers”.
    Jucker said it himself “There cannot be democratic choices against EU treaties”
    Let’s just leave it there..

  10. avatar
    Ignace

    This fetish idea will completely destroy the European economy without any benefit for the planet. It only serves the messiah complex of the non elected EU leaders/ dictators.

  11. avatar
    Michał

    If politicians listened to science, Europe would not have an Istanbul convention. And at the best of times, scientists are subject to the same frailties everyone else is: corruption, bias, compartmentalization. Treating scientists as though they are the oracle at Delphi is precisely what a fool would do.

  12. avatar
    Yannick

    Considering how ridiculously inapt the response of politicians to the climate crisis has been in the last THIRTY years, I’d say go with scientists all the way. Let me add that the problem is that yes politicians are held somewhat accountable for decisions .. within their election cycle. But who is held accountable for decisions that impact future generations? The climate crisis – like the rest of nature – is slowly unfolding. We need new mechanisms that also give a democratic voice to future generations.

  13. avatar
    Bogdan

    If by scientists you also understand sociologists and crowd psychologists, then, scientists.

  14. avatar
    Lou

    Debating “Europe” ? I’m sure you meant “EU”… Is this an attempt of confusing the audience ?
    For the sake of clarity one is a continent, the other is a supranational technocracy of mostly non elected “door-revolvers”.
    Jucker said it himself “There cannot be democratic choices against EU treaties”
    Let’s just leave it there..

  15. avatar
    Bernard

    The advice of scientists and other experts in a particular field must weigh extremely heavily in the decision that, ultimately, must be taken by politicians. The problem is that it must be transparent which scientist or expert is being listened to. Are we listening to the economist, the epidemiologist or pollster, who also happens to have an academic degree during this pandemic? (although their advice need not be mutually exclusive).Advice on which policy choices are based must of course be public, so that the decision-making process is transparent.And, finally, Any politician who invokes ‘scientific research’ in a debate. must be able to indicate immediately on which research he bases his opinion. If the author of this study indicates that the results of the study do not agree with the conclusions drawn by the politician, the politician must, for punishment, write the following line a thousand times in all European languages: “I can’t use science for my cheap political games.” ;)

  16. avatar
    Julia

    A committee of unbiased experts in all fields, not just medical, is required. Economics, statistics, social, health, and specialist experts with opposing opinions are required to advise is such cases. Nobody sponsored by vaccine investors, pharmaceutical companies or NGO’s should be allowed on this committee. Media should not fear-monger or promote one view or goal. Reporting needs to be unbiased again. Then the government can consider advice from all angles and all sources and make wise decisions. Instead of the hot mess we now have, the EU included.

  17. avatar
    Paul

    Politicians, unlike “experts” in any field are always held to account by the electorate.

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