Investing in Energy and Projects Helped Pave the Way Out of the Great Depression: It Can Now Help Build a Greener WorldBreaking News
tags: infrastructure, New Deal, public investment, energy, Tennessee Valley Authority
During the Great Depression, US President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal put a priority on infrastructure and energy. The Tennessee Valley Authority, set up in 1933, built dams and hydroelectric power stations through the south-east. The Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, then the world’s largest hydroelectric dam, was finished in 1936. The Rural Electrification Administration, established in 1935, took the share of farms with electricity from 10 per cent to 90 per cent by Mr Roosevelt’s death in 1945.
Before the coronavirus crisis, two New Deal-inspired environmental investment programmes had been proposed - the Green New Deal by some Democratic politicians in the US, and the European Green Deal to make the European Union carbon-neutral by 2050.
The Democrats’ agenda includes energy efficiency, smart grids, a move towards all renewable power, public transport, high-speed rail and clean manufacturing.
Crucial infrastructure such as electric vehicle charging, hydrogen distribution, carbon capture hubs and high-voltage continental super grids needs government to lead. These massive, intricate projects require international co-operation to share the risk, to maximise value and avoid wasteful duplication. Our quadruple crisis outweighs the Great Depression in suddenness and complexity, but we can still learn from its solutions to build our own green future.