Whether you believe in man made climate change or not, you probably think that energy efficiency is a good thing. And luckily in this respect, the goals of most climate change fanatics (a couple of Guardian columnists excepting) are compatible withd the interests of businesses. However, most tend to ignore this fact and go on advocating for sanctions on businesses, despite the fact that the primary goal of both interest groups is best met in another way.
So how can this goal be achieved? One solution which has been tried is to hold a meeting between the world's political leaders and let them 'almost' come to an agreement committing them to strangle their domestic industries in order to achieve some arbitrary goal in the reduction of CO2.
The other solution is for governments to let businesses use their profits to invent and invest in technological improvements through a more business friendly tax system. Would all of the profit then go to technological progress? A great deal would, because it is a core interest of companies to develop more efficient ways of using energy to stay ahead.
The current tax levels force companies to stay inefficient because they either can’t afford to innovate. Giving companies an incentive to survive by letting them compete in the global market would lead to more efficient ways of producing goods and would drive less efficient producers out of the market. This would lead to lower energy usage, which is essentially the common goal. Thus competition, not cooperation is the key to decreasing energy use.
So what are these government leaders waiting for? The answer is that many leaders (particularly in the West) have bought into the idea that businesses are essentially evil. We have a saying in Denmark that is fitting: 'It’s hard to escape if you have painted yourself into a corner while painting the floor'. It looses something in the translation, but I hope you get the point.