Martin Giles: The Economist on Green Innovation

Martin Giles: The Economist on Green Innovation

By Alison van Diggelen, host of Fresh Dialogues

The Economist newspaper has a reputation for world-class reporting, with a sardonic British twist. Is the publication bullish about green innovation? I sat down with Martin Giles, the Economist’s US Technology Correspondent last week to get his global perspective on green innovation and the greening of Silicon Valley tech companies. Giles conducts interviews for the delicious Tea with the Economist series and other high profile conferences, but when the tables were turned, he didn’t disappoint. In this Fresh Dialogues interview, we talk GREEN, from data centers to smart grid; and green jobs to political bluster.

Is GREEN and sustainability important to tech companies today?

“It’s definitely on everybody’s agenda. It’s an opportunity to save money. If we can find ways of powering our server farms…our production lines more efficiently, we can save money and do a favor to the environment. That’s a win-win.”

What lasting green trends are happening today?

E-waste is a big issue…How do we create products that don’t leave a massive footprint on the environment?”

Smart grid… It’s classic Silicon Valley – it’s technology on the one hand and power on the other…let’s bring them together and create a whole new paradigm.”



Primer from the Dept of Energy

Electricity 101


Go to to find your nearest electronic waste depository.

Check out the 2010 Green Business Rankings at Newsweek and Greenpeace and vote with your consumer choices

Is the greening of tech companies authentic?

“There is a little bit of green badge wearing …sort of green-washing for the sake of appearing green…for the annual report. But there are some companies who genuinely believe that this is good for them and good for their shareholders…In general, there is a real belief that there is a win-win to be had here in sustainability.”

Which tech company stands out as being authentically green?

“I would call Google out as an example. They are experimenting with different power systems to reduce emissions…ways in which they can minimize the impact of these vast server farms that they have to have to power the search engines.”

Has Governor Schwarzenegger left a solid green legacy?

“It’s mixed in terms of job creation. Have some green jobs created as a result of state government initiatives? Yes. Absolutely. No question about it. Has the state taken the lead in certain areas like smart grid? Absolutely…But on occasion, there’s a lot of political bluster actually. The results are still not quite there. The subsidies for solar…there’s definite impact but it’s maybe not quite as big as Schwarzenegger would have us believe.”

Check back soon for more segments with The Economist about Arianna Huffington’s Third World thesis; lessons on innovation from Pixar; and why the publication is thriving, despite the meltdown in the serious journalism landscape.
See out more interview with Bloom Energy, Tom Friedman, Paul Krugman and Robert Ballard at the Fresh Dialogues Channel
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