And today the top headline in my e-mail from The Globe and Mail says: Environmentalists promote “green stimulus”.
Supporters are calling the idea “green stimulus.” They argue that directing new government expenditures to wind farms, solar panels, gas-sipping cars and mass-transit infrastructure, among other items, would give a far bigger boost to the economy than tax cuts or government rebates.
Now that is a debate that I’d like to see more of. The one position quoted against this seems to be from someone who is generally opposed to taxes and government stimulus in the first place. Which is fine, I suppose. But if governments are committed to doing something to stimulate the economy, that kind of comment looks like it’s shutting down what could be a fruitful debate about how to do it.
I find it particularly interesting that investing in alternative energy and other green projects could provide jobs in construction and manufacturing, industries pretty hard hit by the mortgage debacle.
Also, in addition to the argument made in the article that rebates to consumers tend to flow to imports, I would say that rebates to consumers don’t do anything to make these technologies more affordable. The problem at the moment is scarcity which makes it pretty expensive to do a lot of things. If you invested directly in green technologies you could increase supply, reducing the cost to consumers, thus increasing demand and creating a virtuous cycle.
Also, it doesn’t just need investment. Changing building codes and regulating new developments to move towards carbon neutrality can have a major impact and is being widely used in Europe.
I hope that this intervention gets taken seriously and we have a real debate about these possibilities.