It Still Boils Down to Money
Government tax credits and potentially "green" requirements for public works is all well and good, but the real driver here is venture capital. I have espoused for decades that the number one action government can make is to provide "transitional capital" to those existing companies wishing to tool up and create cutting edge product while phasing out their old business line. So much of our university level science research capacity is funneled into military funded projects rather than technology breakthroughs for the private sector. Vocal alumni and students are asking schools to divest of certain companies in their portfolios; a request for purposeful investment in advanced solutions should accompany them.
When you look at the investment bankers on Wall Street, cash from the heart of America is funneled through banks and insurance companies to the Orient leaving an anemic industrial economy here. For example the Midwest recently held something like 24% of the U.S. patents but received just 14% of the capital.
I have attended three Solar Decathlons (see website) and amazing technology is already available on a commercial basis for use in the construction of housing, like gels to bolster the efficiency of trombe walls and phase change window glass. Solar will be totally practical for a good portion of America once a proper storage technology is perfected. Read Ted Koppel's haunting book Lights Out to gain a perspective on electric generation. Venture capitalists should be climbing all over one another to fund a breakthrough keystone product.
No doubt we are poised but teetering. Show me the money!
The only good thing I can see coming from this past election is a galvanized and focused electorate from various camps which now realize we must all pull together to elect a whole new slate of officials during the coming cycles. It should not be up to NGOs and private citizens to sacrifice time and money fighting for clean air, water, and soil or secure natural forests and seas; such stewardship should be the first priority of any political or commercial entity, with or without Paris.