Why we are falling behind in the clean energy race

by Ginosar  

GREENVILLE, South Carolina (Reuters) - The United States is falling behind in the race for clean, renewable energy and risks losing its prominence in high-tech manufacturing, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said on Monday.

"America has the opportunity to lead the world in a new industrial revolution," Chu told business leaders, political leaders and engineers at a Clemson University symposium.

But, he said, "The world is passing us by. We are falling behind in the clean energy race. ... China is spending $9 billion a month on clean energy ... China has now passed the United States and Europe in high-tech manufacturing. There is no reason the United States should cede high-tech manufacturing to anyone."


Dr. Chu concerns about the lack of drive of American industry to develop alternative energies are well founded. American industry is almost always interested in making fast profit above all else. We lost the electronic industry to Japan decades ago when the US electronic industry decided to seek only business that provided at least 15% profit. The Japanese accepted just 8% profit and took over the field.


To invest in the future of the country and in our economy we need to change how corporate management is rewarded. Most U.S. corporate management is rewarded according to the performance of its stock. And because our stock market emphasis is on short term profits most large US businesses care only about maximizing short term profits. This was evident in the mushrooming growth of the financial sector and its subsequent collapse.


The needs of the nation and willingness to take long term risks are not in the interest of most US business managers. Many "U.S." corporations are basically international in scope and in their interest. They see profit as their main responsibility. They will invest where they can gain the maximum rewards with the minimum amount of risk.


In addition, the lack of effective US laws that tax fossil fuels either directly or via effective Cap and Trade hinders American investment in green technologies. Senator Boxer too modest energy and enevironment bill is now blocked in Congress by Senate Rebublicans and "moderate" Democrats.






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