Friday, August 15, 2014

Mapping clean technology regions: For clean tech leadership, culture counts

This is a supplement to my three-part series on Colin Woodard's American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of America.   Here I correlate Woodard's map of the "American Nations" with Clean Edge's 2014 U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index.

Clean Edge is one of the absolute leaders in tracking the clean technology industry. The Portland-based firm maps state and metropolitan clean technology industry leaders.  Clean Edge bases its rankings on metrics including patents granted, capital availability, green building representation, policy leadership, hybrid vehicle ownership and renewable energy adoption. It should come as no surprise that there is a high degree of overlap between regions that are leaders in clean technology innovation and global warming policy.

Let's start with the "American Nations" themselves, depicted in the map below.  They are described in this post.  Four "American Nations" - Yankeedom, New Netherland, Left Coast and El Norte - are regions where support for action to stem global warming is high. More on regional geography of climate politics in this post.  

Then let's look at the state leaders. The darker the color the more advanced their leadership.   Notice the leading states all overlap with the four climate-friendly “nations.” The top states, California and Massachusetts, are either entirely or largely with those nations.

The map of clean technology state policy leaders also shows a high correlation between the four "nations," and overall state leaders.  All 10 of the deepest green states heavily overlap the four climate leading regions. The connection is clear. Policy drives much of clean technology development now, and climate-friendly politics drive clean tech policy.  

Metropolitan clean tech leaders are also highly correlated with the four climate-friendly "nations."  The concentration of leaders on the coasts is a stand-out.  There are several outliers among the top 10.  DC, part of Tidewater, is the nation's capital and a center of technology funding.  Denver, in Far West, is a center of federal clean tech R&D, resulting in many spin-offs.  Austin is the exceptional city in Texas in many ways, though Houston and Dallas are not far out of the top 10, another legacy of long-term federal R&D spending.  

The correlation of Woodard’s and Clean Edge’s maps makes it crystal clear – Regions leading the way to address climate change are also taking an early lead in what will become a complex of the 21st century’s largest industries, clean technology.  Regional culture drives politics, and culture drives policy, which gives new industries a leg up to marketplace success. Woodard’s four climate-friendly regions stand to benefit greatly over coming decades by forwarding the clean technology solutions.  In clean tech leadership, regional culture counts.


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