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Clean Economy, Living Planet

2009

Partner Arnoud van der Slot and Senior Research Associate Ward van den Berg from our Amsterdam office are the authors of a recent report published by the World Wildlife Fund which ranks the clean energy technology market activities of countries around the world. The report, "Clean Economy, Living Planet: Building Strong Clean Energy Technology Industries", is the first ever comparison of countries on the basis of sales of their clean energy technology products. It includes the 27 EU member states and all G7 and BRIC countries, and the major renewable energy and energy efficiency segments.

Inspire governments and business

WWF focuses on the Clean Energy Technology industry as the main factor in reducing CO2 emissions and creating parallel business opportunities. Strong industry development is needed to save up to 2,500 species and preserve crucial ecosystems.
The ranking shows that many countries can improve their industry position substantially, and the report seeks to inspire governments and business to capture these opportunities.

Denmark, Brazil and Germany are top performers

According to the 44-country ranking, measured by clean energy technology sales as a percentage of GDP, the top 3 countries are Denmark, Brazil and Germany. Denmark is leading the development of wind energy and insulation products, while Brazil has a massive bio-ethanol industry. Germany, meanwhile, is a specialist in solar and wind energy products. China ranks sixth and the U.S. ranks 19th, just one position behind the United Kingdom.

In absolute figures, Germany, the U.S. and Japan currently lead clean energy sales, according to 2008 data cited by the report. China is ranked fourth in absolute sales, but is expected to take up a "rapidly increasing share" in the coming years.

Lessons to be learned

The report says that countries aiming to develop their clean energy technology sectors should emulate the leaders, for example by:

  • Launching technology action programs that develop a single technology from research to demonstration. This will make government support more consistent and bridge the gap between academia and industry;
  • Urging central banks to encourage the integration of CO2 risk into financial models to facilitate a shift towards “clean” investments. More capital must also be raised for seed investment in clean energy technology ventures;
  • Developing a strong home market for Clean Energy Technology applications by influencing the purchasing decisions of government, business and consumers through government procurement, greater stability in (i.e. policies on) sustainable energy subsidies and tax differentiation.

Arnoud van der Slot underlines the report's importance: "WWF has chosen a very novel approach to realizing its climate ambitions. Promoting innovation, entrepreneurship and industry sales growth will prove to be very effective in making clean energy technologies the preferred and cost-effective option."

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