How to Track New Opportunities in the Green Economy

A successful job-hunt is about finding opportunity. A successful eco-friendly job-hunt is about finding opportunity in the green economy. This means you must know how to track a moving target, as sustainable enterprise and other environmental sectors are still evolving. Companies look for demand before investing. You, too, can predict what will be in demand, and therefore invest in the right career search, by tracking these factors:

  • Goals and mandates. One of the most effective ways to change behavior is to create policies and regulations that encourage green actions and discourage actions that are inconsistent with the goals of the green economy. Over the years some local governments and states have put policies and regulations in place to move their regions in a green direction. The result has been a patchwork of policies that has made it difficult for the business community to fully embrace the stated goals and act. With the new Obama Administration, a more nationally focused set of policies and regulations are under discussion. Although details are not all nailed down, it is clear that the administration intends to encourage investments, innovations, and business development in the green economy. Only time will tell exactly what all the key policies will look like. For instance, keep an eye for a National Fuel Efficiency Policy and a National Renewable Energy Standard.

  • Incentives and disincentives. Implementing the right incentive program via laws can literally create a marketplace overnight. Right now, cap-and-trade systems and solar feed-in tariffs have a lot of potential.

    Unfortunately, what goes up often comes down. When existing incentive programs expire after a designated period of time, industries may falter as their guaranteed customer base vanishes. The hope is that the corresponding industry has reached a level of stability so that the expiration doesn’t cause the industry to contract.

  • Treaties and agreements. Although the United States is not legally bound by the Kyoto Protocol (originally signed by 192 countries in 1994), the agreement was officially put in place for the more than 140 other countries who had ratified it. As such, the Kyoto Protocol has continued to play a part in forming the green economy through the world. Domestically, more than 1,000 mayors have signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which enabled mayors to commit to the same Kyoto reductions in greenhouse gas emissions for their cities. Tracking developments such as these is crucial for understanding the direction of the green economy.

  • Research funding. With the green economy comes the need for new innovations and new knowledge. As you’ve no doubt noticed, a number of interlocking problems need exploration and out-of-the-box thinking. Unfortunately, research, thinking, and innovation require quite a bit of funding — that is, money. Most universities, think tanks, and research labs have been stretched in recent years by decreasing funding and tight budgets. Find out where the money is coming from (and therefore going to) — for example, money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act going to the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the Department of the Interior.

  • Capital investments. Money makes the world go around. Start-up companies need money. Period. Without funds, companies promoting innovations that could change the world can fail quickly. Funds for the green economy come from three main sources: venture capitalists, large capitalized companies, and contracts, grants, and loans from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

  • Innovations. Although climate change is unlikely to be reversed through innovation alone, technological advances are likely to play a significant role in determining how the green economy develops over time. As new technologies come on the scene, don’t be surprised if they knock previous technological darlings off the map. It’s entirely possible that innovations within emerging industries such as algae biofuels, cellulosic biofuels, the smart grid, and lithium ion batteries could change the future by opening up new avenues for even further development.

  • Scientific findings. Watching An Inconvenient Truth was the first time many people thought about global warming. By putting scientific findings in engaging contexts, Al Gore woke many up to the issues. Unfortunately, knowing about global warming isn’t enough. We must continue to turn to scientific findings to assess the current impact on the planet and to forecast how higher temperatures, shifts in ecosystems, and higher sea levels will impact our lives.

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