What Environmentalists Need to Know
1. Half of the economy consists of small businesses
America’s 25 million small businesses produce 51% of the nation’s private sector output and make 47% of all sales. Small business employs half of all private sector employees and pays 45% of the total U.S. private payroll.
What’s more, this half of the economy consumes 48% of all electricity and 39% of all natural gas used for commercial and industrial purposes in the United States. One-third to one-half of all this energy is needlessly wasted.
2. Much of America’s capacity to actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions relies on small businesses.
Americans cannot curb greenhouse gas emissions without relying on the thousands of small businesses that design and manufacture energy-efficient appliances, lighting products, control systems, solar, wind and other renewable energy technologies, advanced industrial processes, etc. Small firms also dominate the business sectors that sell, install, and service the nation’s lighting, heating/air-conditioning and other energy-consuming equipment.
3. Technology innovations to combat global warming come mostly from entrepreneurial small businesses.
Small business innovators and entrepreneurs traditionally produce two-thirds of all innovations. Today, not surprisingly, this includes most of the “clean-tech” breakthroughs that curb greenhouse gas emissions. Small entrepreneurial companies are producing environmental technology breakthroughs in photovoltaics, distributed energy, fiber-optic sensors, and other devices and processes that reduce energy consumption, pollution, and waste.
4. Small business is by far the chief creator of new jobs, many of them “clean.”
Over the past decade, small business net job creation fluctuated between 60 and 80 percent. In the most recent year with data (2003), small businesses created 1,990,326 net new jobs, whereas big businesses shed 994,667 net jobs. (Source: US Small Business Administration)
Much of this new job creation involves the transition to a clean and efficient economy. Green industries – sparked by small businesses engaged in recycling, green building, renewable energy, eco-tourism, organic agriculture, and so on — are growing at twice the rate of the rest of the economy, creating new markets worth billions of dollars and millions of new jobs. The recycling industry alone is as large as the auto and truck manufacturing industry.
5. Political opposition by small business may thwart efforts to curb global warming
Small business owners are a highly active political constituency: 95% of them are registered to vote; 84% usually do; 45% of small business owners make financial contributions to political parties and candidates. Nothing arouses this powerful bear of a constituency so much as the image of Mom and Pop being forced out of business by “big government” regulatory zealots. This imagery – unless challenged – may thwart measures intended to combat global warming too.