Marketplace Scratch Pad

The climate in Jeopardy

Scott Jagow Nov 16, 2009

I’ll take The Climate Race for $200, Alex. Alright, here’s the clue: I’m the country that now leads the world in exporting green technology. Oh, I know this one. That’s easy. What is Germany! Oooh, I’m sorry, Scott, that’s incorrect. We were looking for…

What is CHINA.

China? Isn’t that the country that produces more greenhouse gases than anyone on the planet? Ah yes, but it also produces more alternative energy than anyone else.

These are just some of the things you’ll learn on Marketplace this week, as our series The Climate Race continues. Tonight, reporter Stephen Beard looks at what European countries are doing in the race to go green:

BEARD: Across Europe a mixture of subsidies, tax-breaks and regulation is creating a new class of green consumer. And says Mark Nicholls of Environmental Finance Magazine, a whole lot of new clean tech companies:

NICHOLLS: So, you’ve got very big Danish companies making wind turbines, Germany has a leading position in the solar sector because of very generous subsidies for electricity from solar panels. Equally some of the biggest wind developers are Spanish companies.

BEARD: Germany is so far ahead that soon its green industries will surpass its auto industry.

Wow. But Germany was just surpassed by China as an exporter of green tech, and that will be explored tomorrow night in a report from Scott Tong, our correspondent in Shanghai:

MING SUNG, CLEAN AIR TASK FORCE: They don’t mind go head to head competition with anybody. They feel they can beat people. The Chinese enterprises: they think we can do it faster, we can do it cheaper.

TONG: Faster because China’s authoritarian government can issue permits and regulations without industry lobbyists slowing things down, as they do in the US. Cheaper because of low wages. In fact, one Chinese company’s already exported its carbon-capture equipment to a power plant in Pennsylvania. Hmm, China and exports…

Energy Consultant Bill Senior has heard that before.

SENIOR: If carbon capture and storage becomes a global market, China could well be the manufacturing hub for much of the equipment. Just as they’re manufacturing everything else that we use in our day to day lives.

Later in the week, we’ll look at the US approach to encouraging green technology, and how it stacks up against these other countries. While not out of it, the US is clearly behind. Even developing countries are getting into the act. We’ll explore Mexico’s efforts to catch up in The Climate Race.

Share your thoughts here as you listen this week, and we’ll get a discussion going.

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