The recent passage of a package of tax cuts and extended unemployment benefits in the United States reminds us why raising the profile of sustainability across society—the purpose of this blog—is necessary. Few provisions of the package could be considered “green,” in the sense that it does not aim to create green jobs or promote sustainable economic activity. This stands in contrast to the stimulus packages of 2009 in the U.S. and around the world, when at least modest efforts were made to promote green economic activity. Some 11–16 percent of 2009 stimulus packages worldwide were green, depending on the definition used. At the national level, the green share of stimulus packages varied from a few percentage points in many countries to some 81 percent in South Korea. (For a breakdown, subscribe to Worldwatch’s Vital Signs Online trends analysis service.)
By contrast, the package passed by the U.S. Congress yesterday consisted largely of tax cuts that were not crafted to stimulate green economic activity. We look forward to the day when all government spending is designed to advance the environmental, social, and economic goals of sustainability.