Green Economy FAQs

by | May 1, 2024

Excerpted from The Practical Guide to the Green Economy. Click here to download our Quick Reference Guide to the Green Economy.

What Is the Green Economy?

There is no universally accepted definition of the green economy— indeed, it is a highly contested concept! The Practical Guide relies on a broad way of thinking about the green economy: by types of firms and actors, various technologies and approaches to transitioning to a green economy. Importantly, the green economy is not static; it is a transition, a range of dynamic processes that are generating new opportunities.

Green economy firms and actors

The green economy includes firms that make green products (e.g., electric cars or wind turbines) or use green processes (e.g., using hydrogen fuel in manufacturing to reduce production emissions) and actors who generate and help to meet the demand for green products and services (e.g., helping households access incentives to switch to solar).

Green economy technologies

The green economy also includes the set of industries or technologies often referred to as climate tech or cleantech: renewable energy, batteries and energy storage, electric vehicles, circular economy (heat recovery, plastics recycling), building technologies (including energy efficiency), industrial process innovation (including green steel), hydrogen, sustainable fuels, carbon capture, utilization and storage, green agriculture and food production, and clean water and soil remediation.



How Can a Green Economy Support the Everyone Economy?

An inclusive green economic development strategy is not the same as a decarbonization strategy. Economic development involves a set of strategic choices about whether, where and how to apply resources in efforts toward capturing economic opportunity.

The question in front of the region: What is worthy of our collective focus? Beyond the relative “greenness” of any approach, the potential outcome must matter for inclusive growth.

An inclusive economic development strategy must enable the region to retain current jobs and capture future ones, so there is future economic opportunity in the region. It must consider who is likely to benefit from future economic opportunity and whether existing inequities are likely to be improved or exacerbated. It must also ask whether investments from economic development are likely to make a difference.

How Can a Region Approach the Green Economy?

In order to come up with the three strategic imperatives for Northeast Ohio, we first conducted a critical analysis of the ways an economy can become greener. We looked at the strength of market and policy forces, potential for economic growth, potential for economic inclusion, success conditions, regional awareness and strategic opportunity. Four main approaches emerged:

Switching to renewable energy sources

Some ways to transition to renewable energy include large-scale grid transition, off-grid switching, and microgrids. In the case of large-scale grid transition, this involves the development of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, and purchasing renewable energy. Carbon capture technology can also be used to reduce the carbon footprint of energy production. In off-grid switching, green hydrogen, bio-fuels, renewable natural gas, and small-scale nuclear can be used as alternatives to traditional energy sources. Lastly, microgrids, whether in business parks or communities, can provide localized energy solutions that are more efficient and sustainable.

Helping existing businesses use greener methods

Existing businesses need to realize the importance of being environmentally friendly and sustainable. One way to achieve this is by adopting greener corporate practices such as setting emissions and climate risk goals, changing suppliers, and participating in sustainability leaders networks. Additionally, manufacturing practices can be improved by implementing industrial energy efficiency measures, utilizing cleaner energy sources, incorporating recycled products into inputs and outputs, and minimizing waste. Businesses can reduce their environmental impact by taking steps towards greener practices while demonstrating their commitment to sustainability.

Creating and attracting new green businesses

The main objective of this approach is to encourage the growth of a sustainable economy by attracting and establishing new green businesses. This involves implementing various strategies such as marketing, improving business inputs, cleaning up brownfields, and promoting industrial symbiosis. Offering startup support such as customized capital and coaching, procurement, commercialization, and talent development can significantly help increase business growth. Developing clusters related to water, energy storage, and materials can also attract more investment.

Helping consumers make better choices

Consumers are showing a growing interest in sustainable and eco-friendly choices, which can help them make better decisions regarding home energy efficiency, transportation, and goods consumption. One way to promote home energy efficiency is to make people more aware of tax credits and how to creatively combine them with solar and efficiency upgrades. Low-carbon transit, e-bikes, and electric and hybrid vehicles can help reduce carbon emissions from transportation. Encouraging consumers to choose greener goods can lower healthcare costs, promote local food systems, and support residential green energy.

What Three Strategic Imperatives Emerged for Northeast Ohio?

Three strategic imperatives were developed a critical analysis of the above approaches to the ways an economy can become greener. They are:

Growing green job hubs

An abundance of green manufacturing projects are in search of tailored sites and supports. Clean industries can be rooted in communities.

Future-proofing businesses

Firms need to develop green capabilities fast, and (for now) without supportive state policy, to compete in a new economic era.

Maximizing community benefits

Now is the time to deploy green solutions at scale, creating jobs and building wealth. No more pilot projects.

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