06/06/2014 06:29 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Where Congress Fails, Business Leads


Recently the US Senate failed to pass an energy bill that had garnered strong bi-partisan support. While the bill sought only "modest" goals for energy efficiency standards and industry innovations, it was stymied by political pandering. In response, Senator Robert Portman (OH-Republican), and co-sponsor of the bill said:

"Today's failure to move forward on a bipartisan energy efficiency bill is yet another disappointing example of Washington's dysfunction. It's a sad day in the U.S. Senate when more than 270 organizations - from business to environmental groups - can get behind a good, bipartisan effort, but we can't get votes on a few amendments to pass it."

But while congressional leadership can't seem to form a lasting consensus, or fully realize the urgency and importance of the energy economy, the rest of the world has formed a verdict and continued the march towards progress.

The latest reports on climate change indicate a 97% consensus in the academic literature published in peer-reviewed journals since 1993, concluding with strong statistical significance, that humans are influencing climate change by contributing to global warming. These findings are more troubling when you consider another report released the day after the energy bill debacle and published by the Center for Naval Analyses. The CNA's military advisory board is responsible for the publication and comprises an elite group of retired three-and four-star Generals and Admirals who utilize their decades of experience managing risk, and proficiency in geopolitical analysis and long-range strategic planning to assess threats on America's national security. The report begins by stating unequivocally that:

" (projected climate change) will test the security of nations with robust capabilities, including significant elements of our National Power here at home. This update makes clear that actions to build resilience against the projected impacts of climate change are required today. We no longer have the option to wait and see."

While the academic community has been showcasing their consensus on climate change and the top military advisers in the country are warning of its immediate threat to the United States national security, congress has decided to put off any action until the next election cycle. Fortunately, where the government has failed to capitalize on the zeitgeist that is the green movement, private enterprise is already starting to reap the rewards of the green economy.

The 2014 annual report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) presents a hopeful tone citing that renewable energy jobs had reached 6.5 million as of last year. China is the global leader by far, followed by Brazil, and the US in a close 3rd for jobs in the sustainable energy fields.

Although the US is currently being outpaced by China in both green investment and job creation recently corporate juggernauts such as Google, Apple, and Walmart, made large investments in green technologies and have enacted stringent sustainability goals. With further funding pouring into the green economy from the financial sector by firms like Goldman Sachs and Berkshire Hathaway it appears we are currently at the tipping point for the next economic/market revolution.

The green movement, and all that it comprises, R&D, technology, construction, retail, customer service, agriculture, and everything in-between, will be the economy of the next generation. Putting aside the moral impetus of global warming's consequences, or the looming threats to domestic infrastructure and national security, the green movement has gained traction thus far because the private sector has seen the ROI opportunity in the green economy and the consumer demand has steadily increased. Now that these investments in green technologies and training are beginning to yield real world results, generate revenue, and become scalable to the point of sincere profitability, the American corporate sector is doubling down. And that's good news for everyone.

In recent years the clean-energy job sector in the US has grown at a rate of four times all other job sectors combined according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and has saved billions of dollars in the government and private sector due to sustainability practices and innovations. If this pace continues it would seem that nothing can stop the runaway train that is the green economy; well except maybe congress.