Transition Paths to a New Era of Green Industry: Technological and Policy Implications
RAND CORP SANTA MONICA CA
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My task today is to look into the future. I have been asked to discuss the types of actions we must take in the near-term to help ensure that science and technology will decouple economic growth from environmental impacts over the course of the 21st century. There are, of course, three absolute certainties when talking about the long-term future. First, the 21st century is absolutely certain to surprise us. Technologies will appear that, for good or bad, will completely disrupt our expectations. The environment, for good or bad, will respond to human influence in ways we dont expect. Political and cultural changes will make commonplace practices and values unimaginable today. Second, it is good that we will be surprised, because achieving sustainable development will require radical, hard-to-imagine changes in our technology and institutions over the course of the coming century. Third, big UN meetings like the one we are all attending will, by necessity, produce at best incremental changes. Such meetings require consensus, and the parties to this meeting bring so many different interests, values, and expectations about the future to make it difficult to agree on anything but the smallest steps towards sustainable development.
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