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Archive for February, 2010

America Risks Missing Out in Clean Technology

Even before the Great Recession, policymakers were commonly asking, “Where are the new jobs going to come from?” Now with U.S. unemployment at 10%, that question has taken on a new urgency. And today’s Mr. McGuire-like advice is as succinct as it was in The Graduate in 1967: “Green.” Everyone from President Barack Obama to mayors of small towns are proclaiming that green industry is the savior of the U.S. economy, bringing jobs to the unemployed, needed economic activity to distressed industrial regions, and an overdue shot in the arm to U.S. industrial competitiveness.

This is not necessarily a vain hope. Global private investment in renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies is estimated to reach $450 billion in 2012 and $600 billion in 2020. These are hefty numbers, and attracting even a modest share of that investment will produce hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Yet these hopes are likely to remain unfilled unless the U.S. embarks on a very different course. A joint study by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, which I direct, and the Breakthrough Institute finds that Asia’s rising “clean-technology tigers”—China, Japan, and South Korea—have already passed the

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