Ahead of Election Day, America’s real leaders and innovators back call to win $3 trillion for the economy
- 25 September 2012
NEW YORK: Today an eclectic mix of global and American leaders and innovators including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams and senior representatives from national agricultural, religious and medical institutions, gathered in Manhattan’s Morgan Library for the Climate Week NYC Opening Ceremony, to announce their shared support for an American Clean Revolution, just weeks away from Election Day.
The American Clean Revolution is a vision of the economy powered by cleaner energy, which is explored in our newly launched report. Kalee Kreider, Managing Director, Fenton DC moderated the launch. She welcomed Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group, who began by spotlighting the presidential race: “Climate Week NYC 2012 comes at a critical moment in America’s history. In 44 days Americans will be going to the polls and the context of this Election could not be more challenging. Not since the 1930s has the world faced such a prolonged period of economic hardship and insecurity. At the same time, climate change is showing its teeth, with devastating consequences. But the opportunity of a clean revolution can solve both issues.” He highlighted China’s soaring green industrialization as ‘others filling the gap’ if America doesn’t take this opportunity to lead, and as well as competitiveness, listed energy security, economic growth and jobs as reasons to pursue the transition. He backed his call with many compelling facts: “A clean revolution can kick start the economy, growing it by an additional $3 trillion between 2030 and 2050. An expanded clean economy could create over 1 million new jobs for Americans by 2030, and position American companies as the leaders of the global clean economy market.”
Mark Kenber said the US is already in the midst of a clean revolution – of which just needs to be ‘nurtured and accelerated’ – affirming the presidential race as the ideal opportunity to mobilize it: “The next US Administration can ensure America maintains and strengthens its lead in the clean energy sector by leveling the playing field and removing market distortions, ensuring renewables have access to the same incentives as the fossil fuel industry. The US must triple annual federal energy research and development spending to ensure it doesn’t fall behind its major competitors. Clean and efficient energy must become the cornerstone of America’s economic strategy.”
American clean revolution
Rt. Hon. Tony Blair shared his experiences of signing the Kyoto Protocol and putting climate change on the agenda at the G8, compared to today’s challenges: “In the early years the focus was on international treaties, but now that’s just one element. Now we must mobilize civic society and businesses.” He used the green progress of the Government of New York City, as well as the London 2012 Olympics as examples. “It’s in our self-interests to accelerate the clean revolution in America and globally” he added, referencing the benefits of energy security and increased jobs.
The HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco shared similar support for the clean revolution when he said: “Today the green economy offers business prospects of growth and profitability. It is now our responsibility to convince reluctant entrepreneurs and make consumers aware of the changes we must make.”
Rachel Kyte, Vice President of Sustainable Development, World Bank, instead stressed the urgency required, asserting: “we are in a make or break decade”. She listed the associated climate change impacts on food supplies and health, especially on the world’s poorest. While she applauded early-adopters, she commanded mass market pick up the pace: “Unlocking private investment is key. Smart companies are not waiting for an international agreement and market leaders are storming ahead – and we must celebrate them. But we need [climate] mitigation and adaptation business models in every sector of the economy, and the action is still not at the scale or speed we need.”
Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research also stated the need for the US to act fast, but in a bid to remain competitive; a key point from the report. He said: “America must compete successfully in the global economy. Countries like China have already seized the opportunity.”
True American leaders
Offering the perspective from the medical world, Dr Cecil Wilson, Former President of American Medical Association and President-elect World Medical Association noted the health impacts of climate change caused heat waves, storms and flooding, including waterborne outbreaks of fatal diseases. He concreted the need for a American clean revolution: “Transformation of the US economy powered by clean, affordable energy is good for competitiveness, growth, security, infrastructure – and yes, it’s good for our health.”
With a similarly human call for a clean revolution, Deborah Fikes, Representative to the United Nations and Executive Advisor, World Evangelical Alliance spoke next. She promoted the recent and inspiring climate change advocacy of younger evangelicals, who see it as a “moral imperative to speak out”. She explained: “Clean energy is good for national security in the US, it but it also part of our faith – loving our neighbors – climate change will effect the poorest of the poor, who are least able to deal with it.”
Roger Johnson, President, National Farmers Union (NFUDC), described how farmers had dramatically changed their practises to grow crops better adapted to climate change and how the NFUDC encourages the farming community to lower emissions. He said: “Farmers are the original beneficiaries of the green revolution. I believe that we will be an instrumental part of the agricultural clean revolution.” He ended with a policy appeal: “We want to be part of the American Clean Revolution and are well situated to do that. All we’re waiting for is the right signals from government.”
Walter Bell, Chairman, Swiss Re, said the growing extreme weather is a glimpse of a future if we don’t demand a more resilient society. With a pithy: “Investment in renewables makes economic sense, as an unmitigated world will cost us much more”, Walter Bell cited the $60 billion of damage this year’s Hurricane Isaac caused. He suggested that businesses integrate climate risk into strategic decision-making and that the US catalyzes national debate and increases investment in CCS and efficiency to assist the shift to renewables.
Zia Eftekhar, CEO, Philips Light North America said public-private partnerships are needed to foster innovation in clean technologies, mentioning San Francisco’s new LED installations which are estimated to bring in an extra $100 million from tourism. “What’s good for the environment is good for business”, he concluded.
The final speaker of the Opening Ceremony was Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter. In his opening remarks he said: “a green, clean future is inevitable. It is economically superior”, before suggesting that we stop mentioning the words ‘climate change’ altogether and instead focus on “the solutions that work around the impediments, to create models we can all follow”. He compared the clean revolution to the technology innovation and market disruption that Silicon Valley is famed for. Using a recent investment of his, Beyond Meat, plus his latest purchase, a 100% electric Tesla Model S, as innovative, low carbon examples, Evan Williams stated: “Clean technology can provide solutions that don’t require sacrifices”. He said that he hopes solutions like those will “dislodge money to be invested in future entrepreneurs.”
As the American entrepreneurs, farmers, doctors, academics, businessmen, policymakers and leaders dispersed the Opening Ceremony to join various panels and roundtables around the Morgan Library as part of the day’s events, it was clear to all who participated that the clean revolution is not only urgently needed in the US, but is already showing early signs of competitive, innovative, American success.
Read the report, share the infographic and play with the fun election app at AmericanCleanRevolution.com
Watch highlights from the Climate Week NYC 2012 Opening Ceremony