Treasury Secretary Paulson, the U.S. and China, Going Green One of the New, Few Safe Bets?

Sec paulson talking
Yesterday morning, I watched U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson give a short speech and field some unforgiving questions from the audience before heading straight to the airport and on to China to continue the U.S.- China Strategic Economic Dialogue.  His prepared remarks were more or less standard with Washington's public position on the current challenges and issues facing the U.S. and China today.  I was particularly interested by the amount of attention Sec. Paulson devoted to environmental issues and initiatives.  While Sec. Paulson does have a personal interest in the environment and conservation, and perhaps he would rather highlight the ecological environment compared to the financial environment at this time, I believe it's an interesting sign of the times, that a Secretary of the Treasury is emphasizing environmental topics.   As you can see from the picture, he looks pretty happy about it.

As Sec. Paulson pointed out in his speech, with economic prosperity, comes environmental degradation–unless we do something about it.  The financial crises, trade and currency, will no doubt be the main topics of attention during Sec. Paulson's visit to China, but an action plan for air quality, and discussion of launching an initiative to establish eco-city partnerships among their cities, will also be on the agenda.

At a high level, with respect to the environment, China gets it.  With the new U.S. administration coming in, it seems we may be "getting it" real fast. 

In both countries, on a local level, it may be beginning to trickle in:

Greensburg yes

Greensburg, KS: This midwest, U.S. town, was leveled by an F5 tornado in early 2007.  As you can see from the picture, the town was destroyed.  Today?  The town has implemented a green rebuilding project that mandates all city buildings larger than 4,000 sq. ft. to be built to LEED-Platinum level and have an energy
performance level at least 42% better than current building codes.  Talk about seizing an opportunity. 

Dongtan-2

Dongtan, China: Many have heard of China's work in building one of, if not the most, pioneering green city in the world, from scratch.  The first of four "eco-cities" slated for construction by the Chinese govt., the city will open in 2010 and offer residents zero-greenhouse-emission transit and complete self-sufficiency in water
and energy. 

These are two small examples of local town/city implementions reflecting higher-level goals.  But as Sec. Paulson stated, the importance of the U.S.- China economic relationship, if not already, will likely become the most consequential for the world economy very shortly, and it's implications will reach every corner of the world.

There is a lot of turmoil out there and a lot of opinions on short-term and long-term developments.  But going green has gone from fringe issue, to popular lofty goal and topic for government, media and corporations, to perhaps one of the safest long term bets at this point in two of the most important countries in the world.