The green market is growing. Will Holland join the global economy or get left behind?
By Kristopher Reinhardt.
Originally published in the Holland Sentinel. Reprinted with permissions.
Some Climate History
The global economy turned in 2016 when the collective world endorsed the Paris Climate Agreement. The agreement is designed to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions which are elevating global temperatures—or simply put, to stop climate change. This coming together with united purpose and vision represents one of the rare occasions humanity has come together.
Note that the world joins together in combating climate change despite the conflicting narratives of its importance and reality. The Paris agreement now, however, renders that old conflict moot. The trajectory has been set. The global economy will follow. It’s time for action.
Resisting the future can be a tragic mistake. Take a lesson from history. James Hargreaves’ 1770 invention of the Spinning Jenny and subsequent resistance by the Luddites is a notable example. The efficient Jenny replaced eight workers. The Luddites, fearing mass unemployment, moved in to destroy the textile machines. They subscribed to the “lump of labor fallacy” which asserts that there is a fixed amount of work in any economy. The principle was false then and always will be.
When relieved of mundane tasks, humanity is free to tackle different, more complex problems—that’s how we propel ourselves forward. Imagine if humanity had continued on as hunter-gatherers. There would be no time to harness steam, to design locomotives or make transcontinental travel possible; electricity would be unknown—confining life to daylight hours. These lessons illustrate the risk of refusing to accept progress.
Refusing to embrace the Paris agreement would be detrimental to both the United States and Holland. Refusal goes against our history. The United States emerged as a superpower by establishing a global manufacturing base, transitioning into a service economy, and finally by providing intellectual capital to the world. We are global.
A Fresh Perspective
The Paris agreement has been signed by 195 countries. The implication? There is an emerging global market and demand for renewable energy and the technologies that eliminate carbon emissions. This will be a massive market and the timetables built into the agreement all but guarantee robust demand. Every company’s dream!
When the stars align and produce a market like this, buyers are forced to pay a premium for goods and services. This dynamic delivers significant profit margins. Let’s bring those profits home. The United States, we as Americans, should choose to be a leader in the markets. Let’s maintain our place both in democratic values and intellectual prowess. We cannot allow ourselves to fall behind again as we have with China and the rollout of 5G technology.
Holland can be a leader in this race. The opportunity ought to be taken seriously. The risk is more than global, this challenge actually hits close to home. Multinational companies are pledging to meet carbon neutrality—even carbon negative—goals. These companies initially focused on their own in-house operations and carbon impact. Now, however, they expect carbon reduction goals from their suppliers. For Holland’s strong manufacturing and supplier base, this is a tremendous opportunity to rise to the occasion.
As companies look to build new manufacturing plants, they seek communities which provide renewable energy and a trained labor force. By taking action today, we demonstrate to American companies that we have the skills and infrastructure to meet their goals. Failing to take action, risks the loss of our manufacturing base and with it, the high wage jobs which support our local economy. An investment in these goals now, is an investment in our future and the future of our children.
A review of our Community Energy Plan is in process and will determine our energy goals for the next 3-5 years and likely beyond. So, pick up the phone or send an email. Let City Council and the Holland BPW know that now is the time for action.
Kristopher Reinhardt is a financial advisor in Holland and member of the Holland Climate Collaborative. He holds a Master of Science in finance degree and has spent his career working in financial services.