The article discusses the role of the nation state in stimulating lead markets for green innovations. It is often feared that the nation state loses its capacity for action because of economic and political globalization. This article rejects this hypothesis. It argues that empirical research on actual environmental policies reveals that it is most often nation states that pioneer new approaches, push for advances in environmental policy, and serve as regional starting points for new ‘green’ technologies. The innovation and diffusion of environmental technologies and their support through national environmental policies bear the potential of a far-reaching ecological modernization.

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