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Towards a Green Economy



Efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade could generate
billions of dollars of business in solar energy, micro-power, and
low-emissions vehicles, which would lower energy bills and create new jobs,
states a new Worldwatch Institute paper. Senior researchers, Christopher
Flavin and Seth Dunn, report that many new energy technologies have moved
from experimental curiosity to commercial reality, economically turning
sunlight, wind, and natural gas into heat and electricity. They report that
experience in countries such as Denmark, Germany, and Japan shows that
relatively modest policy shifts-allowing new energy technologies access to
the market, and leveling the playing field-are all it takes to spur an
energy revolution." The Worldwatch researchers cite some early signs of

* the world market for solar cells has gone from $340 million in 1988 to
$900 million in 1996.  In Japan, housing companies have introduced homes
with silicon roof tiles that generate enough electricity to meet most of a
family's annual needs and have already installed 10,000.

* the global wind power industry, already a $2 billion a year business, is
growing by 25 percent annually.  Its tough fiberglass blades and electronic
controls pump out electricity at a cost that is often lower than that of
coal-fueled power plants, and still plunging.

* a new generation of micro-power plants is being located inside office and
residential buildings, allowing for the efficient production of electricity
and heat. These are based on devices such as small gas turbines and fuel
cells, and could make the coal-fired power plants that generate nearly
one-third of today's carbon emissions obsolete.

* a new kind of hybrid electric car that is twice as efficient-and produces
half the carbon emissions-of today's cars is on the way. Toyota has already
begun selling one such model, and several others are under development.

Worldwatch reports that the pace of adoption of these and other new energy
technologies will depend on whether government policies-many of which shore
up the status quo and retard the development of alternatives-are
transformed. Efforts to cut fossil fuel subsidies, improve energy efficiency
standards, and provide incentives for renewable energy and reforestation are
among the modest initiatives that have begun to alter emissions trends. If
any one country were to adopt a 'Dream Team' of best energy practices-Danish
tax policy, U.S. appliance standards, German renewable energy incentives,
and Dutch industry covenants-it would be able to surpass even the toughest
goals being considered for the Kyoto protocol. Contact: Worldwatch:  email:
wwpress@igc.apc.org; web site: www.worldwatch.org.
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