There are many reasons for a green economy, but none more important than as a potential major new way to address environmental and social problems. We’re going to need it to reach our climate change goals, if State Government accepts the Students’ earlier recommendation to adopt some of the UNSDGs, and possibly to meet other environmental, social, or even economic goals. Others will see the main reasons for it differently, which is fine, although those whose prime argument are the new jobs which will be generated should be aware of methodological and even conceptual problems with their estimation—which doesn’t mean they shouldn’t also be emphasized.
The main conclusion of Appendix II is the bolder and more comprehensive a New Jersey green economy, the better. While conventional green jobs (e.g. solar, wind, efficiency) are and will become more important (especially as the Governor very recently signed a bill to shoot for 50% renewable energy by 2030), they will not necessarily be the largest component if New Jersey makes a policy decision to aim for a more ambitious version of a green economy. Jobs will be generated in other sectors as well, including those that flow from encouraging the widespread business practice of CSR.
There are different ways to express parts or all of the vision of an ultimately extreme version of a green economy:
- A deepening, unusually comprehensive green economy over time. It is far from sufficient to rely on the “here today-gone-tomorrow” cycles of shopper interest, and business response, we have seen before. These changes have to be permanent this time
- To distinguish it from much narrower versions, a “Green Economy on Steroids”
- As discussed in Appendix I’s summary of “Strategic Thinking: New Jersey’s Garden-Variety Environmentalism,” (Polsky 2006) “…the state with the greenest economic base”
- An increasing part of “New Jersey’s Unique Economic Development Story”
- It will come to be seen as a major way to address environmental and social problems
- While somewhat of an exaggeration, it is not foolish way to envision that, at some point, the saying sometimes heard at green jobs forums could become largely true, especially if all employees are encouraged to play a role in their company’s performance: “Every job is a green job.”
A deeper green economy would have these characteristics:
- Even though participation by businesses would be voluntary, it should be clear the goal eventually is to include nearly all sectors, and nearly all companies within those sectors. If successful, most will have a role to play
- Companies’ performance will vary, but those sectors and most of the companies who choose to participate will constantly improve their levels of greening
- While there still may be a place, if declining, for companies that just meet regulatory limits, especially if greener competitors emerge, in the long-run the place for those companies with no interest at all in any aspect of greening will diminish. It is not because of regulation, at least not primarily. Customer interest in buying from them, both from individual shoppers and even their business customers, will fade. Greener competitors will emerge and be favored. They will not benefit from the other reasons often given for sustainable business actions (e.g. saving money, reputational effects).
A role of government, as well as other parts of society, including environmental groups and universities, is to assist in clarifying this vision (or a version of it) and, if they’re willing, helping to make it happen. A role of media is to report on it, and editorialists to comment on and critique both the vision and the progress towards meeting it. A role of the public is to factor the level of greenness into their shopping decisions at a much larger and consistent scale than they have been, and in their role as citizens, ask political candidates about their views on a green economy.
There is one major recommendation and 36 to support it. Obviously, not all of these recommendations are equally important and some can be delayed until further into the initiative’s progress, or until after a decision to take the then-achieved level of economic greening further and deeper. Implementation certainly won’t be easy or problem-free, but as discussed both in the Students’ section and in the above section on New Jersey’s existing sustainable business initiatives, we are not starting from scratch. We also have some failed earlier attempts which can be learned from.
- The major recommendation is for the Governor and senior managers to consider different degrees of a green economy beyond just conventional green jobs, and accept the most ambitious one seen as ultimately feasible. All of the others support this one by helping to catalyze and make successful more ambitious and comprehensive versions of a green economy. This would not be a modest, barely known initiative as the earlier sustainable business initiatives have been
- Communications about a green economy should begin to go beyond thinking of it as just conventional green jobs, although the latter will remain, obviously, very important. A prominent communications theme should be that an expanded green economy will become an increasing part of overall State economic policy
- For the first time, as previously mentioned in the summary of “Developing and Implementing a Sustainable Growth Strategy for New Jersey” (Polsky et al 2010) in Appendix I, CSR would be a main element of strategy and practice. The State would be expressing the expectation that CSR is the direction it wants businesses in the state to operate, something no other state has done. It’s just the way that over time business is practiced, in more and more sectors and companies, and eventually nearly all of them, and at higher and higher levels. Of course, the CSR measures have to be real and not greenwash.The State should consider ways to facilitate the capacities of the state’s businesses to engage in this path, including possibly providing incentives. It should ask for input and listen to what would be needed. It should also keep an eye on a very recent phenomenon: Congressional pressure to stop companies from trying to do the right thing (see the above discussion about pressure on regulators to prevent financial companies from reducing services to the gun industry that, among other things, sell to those underage) (Rappeport, 2018). If this gets worse, the State might have to get involved. While CSR and sustainable business would be encouraged and possibly incentivized by State Government, it would not be required
- It is important, if startling, that morality and “Purpose” should be an encouraged part of CSR strategies. There now seems to be sufficient evidence of increasing acceptance, despite the likely skepticism. If some reject the moral component, they don’t have to participate with this element of it
- Relatedly, there is room for a lot more than just nine B Corps in New Jersey, as well as related “Benefit” Corporations, which are legally entitled to pursue a TBL orientation. New Jersey actually passed a law allowing the latter, which was required for companies to have this protection from possible shareholder suits. But this is not well known
- State Economic Authorities will respond this way from their end, as opposed to business-as-usual economic thinking and practice. Increasingly, discussions of state economic policy within their networks will seem as if they’re missing something if environmental protection and social issues are not included
- “A Look at Sustainable Development in New Jersey,” previously summarized in the Students’ work, stated the SBI should “…be expanded and made the centerpiece upon which to build this integrated environmental/economic strategy” (Polsky, 2014). That is also true about the other three existing sustainable business initiatives described above. They all need to be looked at in terms of what this new policy direction means for changes to their priorities, objectives, and strategies
- The Governor’s idea for a Public Bank (Johnson, 2016) should be examined for the role(s) it can play in the green economy area. It could look at New York State’s Green Bank, that: (a) “…alleviates financing gaps in New York’s clean energy markets;” (b) “…is a critical piece of New York’s energy transition,” and (c) “whose mission is to accelerate clean energy deployment by working with the private sector to transform financing markets” (Green Bank Network, 2018)
- If an expanded green economies initiative is accepted, other State agencies will need to be involved. For example, the Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) would need to monitor the legitimacy of environmental claims made by producers of products. The amount and range of claims would ratchet up in a greening economy, so DCA might explore working with the NJCAT, and both might become familiar with the Federal Trade Commission’s latest guidance on these. In addition, some agency, possibly Treasury, will need to become familiar with current and new work by accounting organizations that have developed procedures to standardize corporate sustainability reporting.Other agency involvement could involve Procurement in the Department of Treasury to re-look at the level of green purchasing by State Government, and determine if some more market-priming of pilot technologies is justified. The Division of Pensions could look at redirecting State investments towards sustainability goals. The Department of Agriculture could look at the range of farming/sustainability connections discussed both earlier in the Students’ section and heavily in Appendix III. The Department of Education would look at the latest sustainability practices in the field, particularly those involving business and entrepreneurship, and whether New Jersey is keeping up. (See the “Education” section in the Students’ Proposal for other educational priorities.) The Department of Labor would look at possibly revitalizing and updating green job training programs
- Greening of economy ideas should be integrated with state climate change efforts beyond just conventional green jobs and more ambitious renewable energy efforts. Obviously, the clean energy sector needs to be integrated into an expanded green economy. One area that would be a candidate for linkage between these two areas, and which is often overlooked, is business demand for green power. USEPA “tallied 780 100% Green Power Users—everything from local florists and breweries to Microsoft and Intel—that obtain all their electricity from renewables” (Cohan, 2016)
- Depending on how much the view of a green economy expands, some or even most of the other omitted sectors from this Paper’s focus in Table 1, and those jobs and concepts mentioned in Tables 2 and 3 could be integrated in and made the subject of a deep dive
- One of two areas for likely near to medium-term focus should be ecosystem services, including payments, across sectors, including agriculture. One of the issues that should be monitored are developments in the understanding of soils’ capacity to sequester carbon. The other sector for likely focus, because of its broad potential, is agriculture
- Any State “Innovation” initiatives, such as the work of the new Jobs & Economic Opportunity Council, should similarly have strong green economy connections. “Innovation” is such a popular theme that many are promoting it (Murphy, 2018). But a limited, occasional, secondary green economy connection, which is the role usually assumed for it by “Innovation,” “Entrepreneurship,” and “Incubator” initiatives is not sufficient. “Innovation” without sustainability isn’t necessarily a step in the right direction, and is certainly a major missed opportunity. This has to be changed
- Regarding the “regulation” issue, bring veterans of the old Green & Gold Task Force and The Stockton Alliance, as well as others together on how to improve the regulatory/permitting/enforcement system, but linking that to how it could best complement sustainable business and the green economy. For the most part, that had not been a consideration of past efforts. This effort should invite the greenish trade associations, such as the NJSBC, NOFA-NJ, New Jersey Green Association, Green Buildings Council of New Jersey, Business Network for Offshore Wind, Solar Energy Industry Association, Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Association, New Jersey Work Council; the major conventional business trade associations; and environmental and social justice groups. It should be well-facilitated and include group-defined metrics of “success” of the group’s efforts–and later whether that is being attained. Criteria for selecting a facilitator should consider: someone respected in all quarters, who understands or is at least open to sustainable business and developments in it, has some experience in regulatory matters, familiarity with processes to develop in- group empathy and the value of field trips, including to outdoor sites, and of course mediation. Such an effort should draw from sections in the five documents summarized in the Students’ section or below: 1) “Letter to NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, Suggestions for the next ‘Economic Growth and Environmental Stewardship’ Speech,” 2) the Masters’ Thesis, 3) Cook EcoPolicy Report, 4) Guidance Document, and 5) the ISE White Paper. A goal would be better regulation, not de-regulation except if one of the four narrow conditions discussed in the last bullet entry in the “Mindset Barriers” section is deemed to apply.
- Such a group, once organized, could be used for other tasks and challenges. One would be to discuss and consider how to overcome the other mindset issues discussed above. It should engage in brainstorming, including about untapped needs and how to address barriers. An expanded, TBL-oriented concept of “Competitiveness” should be defined and used in the evaluation of New Jersey’s future green economy efforts. Adaptability to difficult-to-forecast, but imaginable crises should also be discussed. (Thanks to Rob Benjamin for that idea.) It could consider how the State’s relevant Awards Programs could be adapted to encourage the types of achievements and ways to measure them (or whether they can be measured) important to this new direction. Other issues are sure to arise that would benefit from ideas from such a group
- Adding to the earlier Recommendation regarding Education, social entrepreneurship needs to be promoted (Polsky, 2013b). If undergraduates have never have never heard of it (which often seems to be the case), they won’t know to consider it for themselves. Green MBA programs should be offered at most of the state’s MBA programs. It had not been at many (see below). One of them should consider resuming the focus ISE had on sustainable business, but adding its connection to policy. There should be exchanges from time to time between the initiative administrators and the academic community, from the former to the latter: “Here are the greening of economy research needs as we see them,” and from the latter to the former: “Here are some interesting possibilities from research for the greening of the economy in New Jersey you might not know about.” The Recommendation for green design discussed in the Students’ section is critical and a way needs to be found to make this function more available to both students and professional product designers. Biomimicry should be part of that curriculum
- Parallel efforts at the region, county, and municipal levels in New Jersey should be encouraged, and efforts to communicate green economy efforts maintained. Similarly, there should be a sharing of knowledge about and potential implementation of ideas with both bordering states and those states known as innovators in parts of the Northeast and West Coast. This is particularly important for the bold, controversial ones
- If other states develop leadership on some aspects of a green economy, it should be acknowledged and learned from. New Jersey cannot lead in every aspect. Those aspects where another state is pushing ahead with something novel and useful could be considered for possible replication or adaption
- Monitor the Netherlands-informed, flood resiliency/adaptive-oriented re-development in Hoboken (NJDEP, 2016) and determine the green economy implications going forward
- Bring people together who were involved in past green economy efforts to discuss any failures—and there were some, and brainstorm what went wrong and the lessons learned
- The administrators of a green economy initiative should become and maintain familiarity with all state environmental labeling/certification programs, both State Government’s (e.g. “Jersey Fresh”) and non-profits’ (The Natural Resource Conservation Service’s or The Foodshed Alliance’s “River-Friendly;” NOFA-NJ’s “Organically Grown; relevant programs for farmers from the New Jersey Audubon Society [see Appendix III]; WHC’s “Habitat-Friendly;” the Green Buildings Council of New Jersey’s “LEED,” and those mentioned above that the SBI allows options for); and seek to coordinate and encourage their use as appropriate. National and international labels/certifications, including those endorsing Fair Trade and species protection, could also be considered and possibly encouraged in New Jersey
- Revisit the basic science function performed by former Governor Kean’s Science & Technology Commission (NJSTC) and see if and how some of it could be re-created aimed at more difficult green economy challenges. One possible focus is how to deepen the environmental credentials of even clean technologies like solar and wind. NYSERDA in New York State, which combines the functions of the old NJSTC and some of NJBPU, has a wide range of programs, including research and development, technical assistance, and incentives. This includes biomass (NYSERDA, n.d.-a), Advanced Clean Energy Exploratory Research, Agriculture Energy Audit, Clean Energy Workforce Development, Environmental Research, Low-Income Forum on Energy, NY Prize for creating microgrids, and Smart Grid (NYSERDA, n.d.-b). New Jersey may want to consider replicating any of these not currently offered. They even offer biomimicry (see that section above), saying: “Encouraging investors and entrepreneurs to bring technologies inspired by biomimicry from concept to market can help usher in a whole new world of production that is environmentally friendly and energy efficient” (NYSERDA, n.d.-c). This is one, but should not be the only way, that meets Lester Brown’s version of an ecologically-informed green economy. However, the work and focus of a revived New Jersey effort should not be just technology- or even ecology-oriented. Social impacts and considerations and social entrepreneurialism should also be included. NYSERDA offers behavioral design consulting, which it describes as “behavioral strategies to increase the effectiveness of their clean energy programs…” This includes “survey and other background research” and “evaluation of behavioral strategies” (NYSERDA, n.d.-d)
- Consider picking up any relevant and important green economy USEPA voluntary initiatives which are dropped by them at the state level. If impractical to do it alone, seek to manage it together with other similarly inclined states
- Get up to speed on the status of state green jobs training programs, including those for the disabled; state green economy information sources; and environmental incubators, including Rutgers University’s Eco-Complex’s clean energy entrepreneurship accelerator and Food Innovation Center. This will better position the initiative administrators to suggest and/or influence changes consistent with an expanded green economy. New York State has a Pollution Prevention Institute (PPI) that does some unusual things like “enabling manufacturers to enter into new and existing green markets by helping them identify and comply with voluntary green standards and certification requirements….[that] help New York State suppliers market products that meet sustainability standards” (NYDEC, 2012). Their PPI has a Green Technology Accelerator Center which does: “competitive product benchmarking, life cycle assessments, environment and energy impact evaluation, and market viability assessments” (NYS P2I, n.d.). An Institute with some of these functions should be considered in New Jersey
- Similarly, the Administrators should establish links with the recently announced Institute for Corporate Social Innovation at Rutgers University (Bader 2018), as well as any other Rutgers, FDU, or other New Jersey academic efforts focused on social entrepreneurship
- The administration of a green economy initiative in New Jersey should have a learning culture, a willingness to reflect from time-to-time, as well as ask others: “What are we missing?” “Are we not asking the right question?”
- Administration staff should attend relevant forums in the state, and occasionally elsewhere, in order to follow (and contribute to) the sustainable business field. As discussed in “A Look at Sustainable Development in New Jersey” (Polsky, 2014), summarized in Appendix I, [we]…can take better advantage of promising ideas from around the world. But [this is] only available to us if we are willing to go outside our collective comfort zones.” Examples include Philadelphia’s “Impact PHL” project, which emphasizes impact investing (ImpactPHL, n.d.), New York City’s Circular Economy and Zero Waste plans, and the Urban Future Lab in Brooklyn. Besides some of the usual incubator services, the latter also emphasizes classes for K-12 students, forums for the public (Dorsey, n.d.) such as on green design, and has a connection with the government of and companies in Denmark. The latter provides exposure to European ideas. The administrators should read some of the “Publications” on the ISE website, as well as older relevant documents not summarized in either of the two Appendices: NJPRO Foundation (2012), Polsky (1998a), Blue Green Alliance (2009), The Foodshed Alliance (2015), Williams (1997), and Platt (1991). They should follow the related work of organizations such as the Global Green Growth Institute, The Partnership for Action on Green Economy, the National Blue Green Alliance, Environmental Entrepreneurs, and UNDP. They should keep up with some of the journals in the field, such as GreenBiz and Sustainable Brands, and occasionally contribute to them; read some of the main authors in the field, such as Bruce Piasecki, Bob Willard, Andrew Winston, Jeana Wirtenberg (from Rutgers Business School), Bill McDonough, Paul Hawken, and Gil Friend. Coming at this another way, as shown in the summarized Masters’ Thesis, check-in on the development of the ecological economics field from time to time as it can eventually feed developments in sustainable business
- Over time, the administrators and staff should look to fill more of the “holes” in Table 1, as well as develop a fuller policy agenda, while considering the connections between government and business (Polsky, 2013c)
- One area that deserves more attention is the fairness agenda, including attention to rural areas, the physically and mentally disabled, and others not doing well in our current economy and with few other prospects
- If political compromises become necessary, the vision of a fuller greening of the economy should not be dropped, with more ambitious opportunities still pursued as they become available (or can be stoked)
- Administration staff should explore and pursue supplemental funding sources from foundations, including relatively new ones from very wealthy entrepreneurs looking to give back, whatever grants are still available from the federal government, and consider innovative sources like Social Impact Bonds when applicable
- In parallel, measures to stir (or steer) green demand from shoppers, both those from within and out-of-state (including global) for the products of New Jersey businesses pursuing greening should be considered. In particular, the significant problem of swinging consumer demand for high-mileage cars and trucks, which depends so much on gas prices, has to be recognized, with attempts to overcome it (e.g. recall the carbon tax proposed by the Students). Both for purposes of informing interested shoppers and for tracking progress, compile, publicize, and continue to update lists of state companies practicing CSR, those with sustainability-oriented products or products with sustainability qualities. Such efforts complement companies’ efforts to green
- Occasionally monitor relevant work of the European Transformation/Transition fields, which study large scale societal changes (or ask an academic partner to do so), including how such changes occur, and how positive ones could be developed and catalyzed into the mainstream. As a key element of thought in these fields concerns niches and pilots where small scale-large potential innovations can be developed, tested, and improved, New Jersey might want to think about what potential innovations could be candidates for a pilot. Perhaps something in the community energy/storage area would be a good candidate. Another key concept from these fields is resistance from established regimes (in the case immediately below, an established sector) to an innovative, new entrant. An example of this, to be avoided in the future perhaps with guidance from these fields, was the auto dealers’ pressure to prevent Tesla from selling its electric vehicles from a manufacturer store instead of through dealers (Musk, 2014). (Outside the focus of this Paper, but very germane to the highly related energy area, a major case study studied in these fields is the Enegiewende, the highly ambitious and controversial German initiative to transform its energy sector, moving away from both fossil fuel and nuclear energy. The Governor might remember this from his time as U.S. Ambassador to Germany. Perhaps their experience is worthy of consideration as the Governor just signed a bill to pursue 50% renewable energy by 2050.)
- Encourage New Jersey companies to accept some of the UNSDGs as targets for themselves, as well as join the United Nations’ Global Compact Initiative, which shows the business’ acceptance of key international principles such as the human rights enshrined in “The U.N. Declaration of Human Rights” (Accenture, 2013)
- Consider how emergent environmental and social problems could be at least partially addressed through a greening of the economy, and then act to catalyze those possibilities. For instance, could the problem of China now refusing to accept our exported recycled materials be turned into a green design and/or re-use opportunity?
- Search the State Libraries for other previous reports relevant to a green economy
- Finally, if Governor Murphy accepts this direction and New Jersey proceeds to pursue an expanded green economy, but the Governor after him retracts this initiative, pressure should be exerted from stakeholders in the key areas affected to get back on this track.