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Climate change policy: Tech winners and losers

Starting Wednesday, President Obama will make a series of speeches on the economy. He's trying to set the stage for this fall.

President Obama will announce a plan on Tuesday designed to push forward his administration's goals on confronting climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The president's action will likely sidestep Congress. Earlier this year in his State of the Union Address, President Obama said if lawmakers would not pass climate legislation, he would take action without them.

Professor Nate Hultman, director of University of Maryland's environmental and energy policy program, expects Obama's plan will include renewable energy initiatives -- incentives, too. He thinks that will impact a number of tech industries.

"That will change the ecosystem, it changes the investment decision making," Hultman says.

Jeff Deyette agrees. He’s a senior energy analyst at the The Union of Concerned Scientists. He's hoping Obama's plan will move away from incentives for more established energy industries and instead push for technologies we already use, but don't use enough.

"We have most of the low or no carbon resources or technologies available to us today," Deyette says. He adds we need to find "ways to ramp up those resources that have been staring us in the face for decades."

Think more offshore wind farms and even thinner, cheaper photovoltaic solar cells on our roofs. It's not exactly mind-blowing policy. But there's also room for more research and development on alternative energy sources.

"It may be in battery technology," Hultman says, or "it could come in the provision of biofuels."

There is a lot of venture capital going into these newer areas of technology, says Hultman. It's just hard to know if any of them will succeed, and so the Obama administration is likely more interested in pushing for safer bets.

About the author

Ben Johnson is the host of Marketplace Tech.
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