Anyone tired of lousy news from the markets should talk to Douglas Lloyd, director of Venture Business Research, a company that tracks trends in venture capitalism. “I expect investment activity in this sector to remain buoyant,” he said recently. His bouncy mood was inspired by the money gushing into private security and defense companies. He added, “I also see this as a more attractive sector, as many do, than clean energy.”
Got that? If you are looking for a sure bet in a new growth market, sell solar, buy surveillance; forget wind, buy weapons.
This observation–coming from an executive trusted by such clients as Goldman Sachs and Marsh & McLennan–deserves particular attention in the run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali at the beginning of December. There, world environment ministers are supposed to come up with the global pact that will replace Kyoto.
The Bush Administration, still roadblocking firm caps on emissions, wants to let the market solve the crisis. “We’re on the threshold of dramatic technological breakthroughs,” Bush assured the world last January, adding, “We’ll leave it to the market to decide the mix of fuels that most effectively and efficiently meet this goal.”
The idea that capitalism can save us from climate catastrophe has powerful appeal. It gives politicians an excuse to subsidize corporations rather than regulate them, and it neatly avoids a discussion about how the core market logic of endless growth landed us here in the first place.