Clean technology was forecasted to revolutionize the way we live. Proponents of sustainable development long predicted the end of our ongoing addiction to fossil fuel. Recently however, the clean tech bubble has burst and effects of that can be seen at the local level. The shale boom, heightened competition among global manufacturers, mainly China, and less-than-conducive national energy policy has led to a lack-luster uptake of clean mechanisms throughout the nation.
However, even at the national level, the clean cities initiatives are not immune from criticism – most of the funding for these initiatives is geared towards carbon-based liquid fuels and non-plug in hybrids, although there are few provisions for electrification and charging stations. Another issue was the lag between policy and technology as the programs’ focus seem to be moving back and forth between fuel sources; Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and propane in early 2000s, biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel in mid 2000s, to electric vehicles in the last few years of the first decade of the new millennium.
These criticisms do raise some insightful questions – are the program objectives just being moved around while policy catches up to new breakthroughs in technologies? Do local actors suffer as a result of this aimless and moving target? At the local level, are these novel transportation feedstock changing the systems for the better, or packaging old infrastructure in a new way?
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