If a significant climate deal is struck at this month's UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen—and that's a big "if"—world economies will pay the price. The bill has been tallied: $10 trillion in investments in energy infrastructure, to be exact. And despite recent big-ticket grants and loans in green tech from the U.S government, the majority of that cash will come from private investors. While this may seem like bad news for developing countries that can't foot the bill, industrialized countries have proposed paying $10 billion each year for the next three or four years in an attempt to make things fair. But what, exactly, will that cash go towards?
Putting aside the catch-all phrase "energy infrastructure," the money will go into renewable energy projects (wind, solar, geothermal, etc.), flood walls, well-insulated homes—basically anything that can help cut down on carbon emissions. By 2020, experts at ClimateWorks and Project Catalyst predict that $100 billion could be sunk into carbon-cutting measures.
These investments will be a boon to green tech companies around the world, but some countries have a longer way to go than others. "A few years ago, China had almost no recycling. Now it has three to four recycling mills for cartons. That's not ideal, but it's a start," said Mario Abreu, the Director of Recycling and Supply Chain Support Global Environment at Tetra Pak International. Clearly, then, companies from more developed countries that have advanced green technology on tap will have an advantage (note: China does actually have a growing solar industry and will probably benefit economically from a climate deal).
This is all hinged on a climate deal being reached, of course. For that, we'll just have to wait and see.