The paper in a nutshell: In this paper, we present the normative concept of green industrial policy, which we define as encompassing any policy measure aimed at aligning the structure of a country’s economy with the needs of sustainable development within established planetary boundaries. We elaborate on why we need green industrial policy, how it differs from conventional industrial policy, why it is faced with significantly bigger challenges, and how these can be met. What and how we produce and consume is largely shaped by markets. However, markets fail to solve many of the environmental challenges we are facing. Therefore, we need governments to intervene, thus reclaiming the primacy of public policy in setting and implementing societal objectives. While safeguarding the sustainability of human life on our planet makes green industrial policy a highly normative undertaking, the economic case for green industrial policy is strong as well – the success stories of such ‘green’ frontrunners as Germany and Denmark demonstrate the competitiveness potential of the new technologies. However, as shown by decades of discussion on industrial policy, government intervention almost invariably brings about risks of political capture and government failure. Green industrial policy is thus not only governed by ethical norms, but also by politics. The risks of failure are magnified by the urgency and scale of today’s global environmental challenges, requiring particularly bold, comprehensive and well-orchestrated government intervention under high uncertainty. By highlighting lessons learned from practical cases of both success and failure, we show how these risks can be, and have been, managed. In particular, we submit that a broad- based social vision and contract need to be forged – supported by change coalitions and coupled with policy process safeguards, openness to policy learning, and an alignment of green industrial policies with market mechanisms.