In the clean-transportation sector, for example, a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study in July 2011 predicted that China will be the world’s largest market for EVs by 2020, surpassing Europe and the U.S. The study found that about 13 percent of consumers in China say they are willing to pay a premium of $4,500 to $6,000 for a green vehicle (EV or hybrid), compared with 9 percent of Europeans and just 6 percent of U.S. car buyers. BCG projects sales of five million EVs in China in 2020, up from just 2,000 in 2010. In India, pioneering EV manufacturer Mahindra Reva has opened more than 20 sales...
In the 21st century, however, the U.S. consumer market represents literally a tiny fraction of the overall picture. International commerce experts know, but many people are shocked to learn, that at least 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S. Not surprisingly, the meteoric rise of China’s middle class leads the way. Credit Suisse predicts that China’s consumer market will reach $16 trillion by 2020, surpassing the U.S. as the world’s largest—with a projected 700 percent growth in per capita income from 2000 levels.
In 2000, fewer than 10,000 hybrid electric vehicles were being driven on U.S. roads, and only two models, the Honda Insight and the original Toyota Prius, were available worldwide. In 2010, more than 1.4 million U.S. motorists drove hybrids, and 30 models, from carmakers in Asia, the U.S., and Europe, were on the world auto market. Ford, the number-two automaker in the U.S., has predicted that by 2020, one of every four cars it sells will have electric power, either as a hybrid or as a 100 percent electric vehicle (EV).
Perhaps more important, the vast majority of the world’s largest corporations, for a variety of reasons, care about carbon. In 2010, 409 of the S&P Global 500—and more than 3,000 companies overall—responded to the annual CO2 emissions tracking survey of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a British nonprofit advised by PricewaterhouseCoopers. More than 550 institutional investors worldwide, managing more than $70 trillion in assets, use the CDP’s data to help shape their investment decisions. And the fastest-growing area of CDP tracking is the GHG impact of corporate supply chains. Led by the pioneering work of Walmart and others in mandating sustainability initiatives among suppliers, the number of Global 500 companies reporting on their supply chains’ carbon footprints doubled in just two years, to nearly 50 percent in 2010.
Those efforts drive the clean-tech industry forward in a myriad of ways, from McGraw-Hill’s 14.1-megawatt solar power plant—the largest privately owned solar array in the Western Hemisphere—at its East Windsor, New Jersey, campus, to GE’s plans to purchase 25,000 EVs for corporate fleet use by 2015. Despite political rhetoric and U.S. federal legislative inaction to the contrary, corporate efforts to reduce carbon emissions around the world are alive and well.