101 Green Business Ideas

Climate change will have profound implications in the labour market of the future. It will bring about structural economic changes as low-carbon policies become a significant driver changing local and EU employment structures. Globally, governments have endorsed a universal shift to a "green economy," which would amount to a transformation of traditional consumption and production practices. While corporate and government accounting will likely reflect environmental profit and loss within a decade following agreements reached at the Rio+20 summit the green economy is not a big bang, it's a transition.

Nevertheless, concepts like regional energy self-sustainability will become more commonplace and will impact on local economies affecting how and which goods are produced, imported and exported, while also affecting the demand for goods and services by impacting the behaviour of consumers.

Global warming continues to advance and The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that most of the observed temperature increase since the middle of the 20th century was caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases resulting from human activity. There is little argument that the future for Europe must be green and sustainable and that a shift towards a competitive low-carbon, knowledge-based economy has become a pressing priority requiring immediate action.

There is no doubt, the triple-bottom-line — people, planet and profit, also known as the green economy — is here to stay. The phrase ‘green economy’ has become commonplace in our economic lexicon. The numbers of Irish environmental companies have grown significantly in recent years. They are now seen as a key driver of future economic growth.

Throughout Ireland, farming communities occupy a central position in the development of this sector. Land resources are the critical asset necessary for the production of alternative energy crops and the development of biomass. In the current economic climate, maximising the returns from the lands they hold offers the most viable and appropriate way to improve and future-proof family farm income levels.

The current renewable energy marketplace is laden with opportunities for new emerging rural entrepreneurs. Funding streams available within the LEADER Programme and the widely endorsed bottom-up approach on which the programme is based are the perfect platform for the development of new, innovative and enduring business ventures.

No plan to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions can succeed through increases in energy efficiency alone. Because economic growth continues to boost the demand for energy— more coal for powering new factories, more oil for fuelling new cars, more natural gas for heating new homes—carbon emissions will keep climbing despite the introduction of more energy-efficient vehicles, buildings and appliances. To counter the alarming trend of global warming, countries must make a major commitment to developing renewable energy sources that generate little or no carbon.

Renewable energy technologies were suddenly and briefly fashionable three decades ago in response to the oil embargoes of the 1970s, but the interest and support were not sustained. In recent years, however, dramatic improvements in the performance and affordability of solar cells, wind turbines and biofuels— ethanol and other fuels derived from plants—have paved the way for mass commercialization. In addition to their environmental benefits, renewable sources promise to enhance Europe’s energy security by reducing the reliance on fossil fuels from outside its borders. What is more, high and wildly fluctuating prices for oil and natural gas have made renewable alternatives more appealing.