Climate change is a global threat and must be tackled on a global scale. In order to attain the target of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 50%, we need a new industrial revolution. It must take place three times as fast as its precursor 150 years ago and, in contrast to the historical industrial revolution, on a global scale.(1) An innovation thrust of heretofore unknown proportions must lead to a wave of global technology deployment. If the OECD countries are to reach their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, namely 25 to 40 per cent until 2020 (compared to 1990) and 80 to 95 per cent until 2050 (base year 2000), and if global emissions are to reach their peak in 2015, this is by no means an Utopian scenario but a necessary prerequisite, and proactive business stands ready to face this challenge.
Obviously, the growing impetus of Eco-Innovation in Europe cannot stem the tide alone if the major part of the world does not provide significant contributions to the struggle of climate change. Emission reduction and mitigation measures in Europe, for example, do have an impact on the speed of climate change. But compared to the steadily growing quantities of greenhouse gases emitted by newly industrialised countries, emission reduction in Europe, important as it is, loses significance within a global scenario.
It has to be kept in mind, however, that it is neither feasible nor recommendable to try to deny the right to develop claimed by developing and newly industrialised countries. Economic growth in newly industrialised and developing countries has to be radically decoupled from the increase of greenhouse gas emissions. It is decisive whether the implementation of technologies can succeed which at the same time provide economic development and meet the criteria of climate neutrality. Developing countries cannot and will not agree to climate protection policies which undermine their endeavours to develop.
Evidently, both spheres of action – accelerating European eco-innovation and transforming economic development in NICs and developing countries towards a sustainability path - demand a vast range of Green Skills and a huge number of people possessing them. Although the basic conditions in these two spheres differ drastically (and differing conditions in different European countries as well as significant differences between NICs and developing countries are to be considered as well), there is one question that has to be faced.
Is there a basic approach that meets all requirements that are to be taken into account? Even for the strongest national economies in Europe, this revolution of knowledges and skills is a daunting task.
As all these questions can and must be answered in respect to the new industrial revolution both in Europe and in NICs and developing countries, it becomes apparent that, in spite of the differences, the problem is basically the same.