The beauty of the market system emerges when there’s competition along the right dimensions just when we all need them. But competition doesn’t always require a market economy – there’s always limited resources, time and other constraints that requires us to somehow compete. There’s also reputation, attention of people and recognition that drives us to compete. In the 20th century, the space race during the cold war led to phenomenal technical and technological advances which powered the growth over the 21st century.
There was an alignment of political, and public interest. The economic interest was not entirely foreseen and only realised much later. But it seemed that entire economies of Europe, US and Soviet Union were engaged in this mission. It seemed like a conflict and perhaps competition of egos but eventually worked for the good of mankind.
Today we need to shift this mission for space to a mission for mankind on our planet. Developing a green race probably takes a good alignment of the public and political interest, as well as some kind of competitive tensions. We are beginning to observe this with first sound of the trumpet from US with its IRA focus on Clean Energy and climate transition last year; and then Canada followed with its own programme to fund indigenous clean energy projects. Australia’s announcement last week with a highly targeted programme focusing on hydrogen reflects the same sort of tension around the competition to attract the competent hydrogen players to develop required projects in their backyard.
As an energy transition consultant, I welcome this. As much as we might think the competition can result in duplicative efforts and inefficiency, it is what we need to align the incentives in the market with the interest of the overall society. Moreover, harnessing the public interest and pressure upon this topic through directing the workforce and human capital towards the low-carbon economy is much needed. The green race should hopefully create the necessary ecosystem we need to drive further changes and ensure the climate transition.