There’s no doubt that one of the great issues of our time is climate change. According to one 2015 poll, half of all Americans believe the climate is changing, and a majority think it is due to human activity.
One of the great success stories of our age is that many have become, in effect, environmentalists. Whether it’s the football player Michael Bloomberg who talks about ending the war on fossil fuels, or other rich individuals who have contributed to green-themed investments, or the philanthropic foundations that have explicitly included climate change as one of their main objectives, there is now more awareness than ever that climate change is a real threat to civilization as we know it. But while we have the technology and we have the money to stop it, we don’t have the leadership to do so. This means it falls to the wealthy to help save the planet.
The possibility of turning the climate crisis into an economic opportunity is tantalizing, but there are barriers to entry in doing so. Right now, there are a number of factors that make it harder for green investors to make money from sustainable alternatives. How much money can you invest, where do you invest it, and what’s the return on investment?
Green investors in Europe may be able to take advantage of greater opportunities to make money. While the U.S. and some other countries still allow exemptions to labor laws for certain types of investment, these laws have been decimated by the 2008 financial crisis. These countries, however, have recently announced tax exemptions in the wake of one of the hottest years on record. According to the Federation of Environmental Entrepreneurs (FEED), countries like Canada, Estonia, Estonia, Italy, and the United Kingdom announced tax breaks for their investors from April 1, 2017. While investors in the U.S. who take on the prospect of making money from green investments may find the tax incentives in some states difficult to access, others are clearly reaping the rewards.
We need a just transition to a green economy: one that is job- and resource-intensive, but also those jobs bring trillions of dollars of new investment into areas where jobs are the lifeblood of a community and the greater ecosystem. The Green Entrepreneurship Act of 2017 (H.R. 4510) would help protect jobs as well as safeguard the environment. If passed, the Act would make it easier for smaller, start-up companies, retirement accounts, and all investors to make money off of green investments. By focusing on green startups that will increase energy efficiency and create jobs, the act will simultaneously maintain economic prosperity while protecting the environment.
The Green Entrepreneurship Act of 2017, which was introduced by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Rep. John Larson (D-CT), is more evidence that the stars have aligned on climate change. It’s time to take full advantage of the moment.