The term “industry” is often cast about like a dirty word in discussions on reducing emissions. Such criticism is not entirely misdirected, as industrial sectors around the world have been almost uniformly slow to begin greening themselves. Industry also consumes a huge amount of energy: a recent report from Policy Matters Ohio indicates that 33% of Ohio’s energy consumption is industrial, making industry the largest culprit for both consumption and emissions in that state.
However, less often noted are the myriad ways in which achieving national emissions targets hinges upon the maintenance of a robust domestic manufacturing economy. In truth, those who care about emissions reductions should be highly concerned about the decline of American industry, and should support efforts to boost manufacturing, such as the White House’s National Export Initiative.
The obvious first premise of this interdependency is that we’ll need to manufacture clean energy technologies such as turbines and combined heat and power systems in the very near future. But the relationship between industry and emissions goes far beyond simply needing somewhere to build things. It matters greatly that clean energy technologies are manufactured in the U.S. as opposed to elsewhere. Below, I’ll outline some of the subtle but nonetheless powerful ways in which U.S. manufacturing strength affects both global and domestic emissions targets.