Take Germany and Switzerland: Both have always been strong advocates environmental legislation and pioneers in implementing it at national level. As a result, these two nations are leading exporters of equipment to deal with emissions and pollution, like for instance the catalyst spet Hug Engineering of Raeterschen near Winterthur, Switzerland. By contrast, governments in countries that were less enthusiastic about environmental protection have been proven to be shortsighted. These are the countries that become importers when they can no longer avoid accepting and then implementing legislation.
Like other companies involved in the environmental and alternative energy sectors, the Swiss and German spets are doing very good business. Moreover, since environmental protection is often supported by government incentives, markets tend to be unaffected by normal business cycles.
This success is confirmed by Chris Taylor, Head of Research at London-based Neptune Investment Management. Taylor, also manager of Neptune's Green Planet Fund, Taylor even argues that US President George Bush's imminent departure from office later this year increases the chances of the US putting its weight behind environmental technologies.
Widely perceived as a blocker of environmental initiatives, Bush's departure could take the brake off the US environmental sector, leading to considerably more investment in green technologies, Taylor reckons.
His view is based, in part, on the record of American enterprises in developing technologies into new industry sectors in as little as five or 10 years. Examples of this capability are software, hardware, biotech and pharmaceuticals and Taylor predicts environmental and alternative energy sectors will be the next case. As a result, he also expects the success of such companies to be acyclical.
Few will disagree that America, bringing its immense innovative potential to bear on environmental issue, would be good news on a global scale.