Tony Blair, Prince Albert of Monaco, Evan Williams, Norman Ornstein and many more call for an American Clean Revolution

Clare Saxon Ghauri
23 September 2012

NEW YORK CITY: Business and political leaders from around the world and across the political spectrum including Tony Blair, Prince Albert of Monaco, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, plus conservative commentator Norman Ornstein, came together today to call for an American “clean revolution” which could grow the US economy by $3 trillion.

They were joined by a number of CEOs and Chairmen of top companies including Walter Bell, Swiss Re and Zia Eftekhar, Philips Lighting, as well as Rachel Kyte, the World Bank, Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union, Cecil B. Wilson, American Medical Association and Deborah Fikes, World Evangelical Alliance. The group opened Climate Week NYC 2012 with the launch of a new report which concludes that the transition to a clean energy economy could create more than 1 million new jobs and help the US to avert the effects of climate change, such as extreme weather. The Climate Group simultaneously launched a Twitter and Facebook campaign in support of the initiative to raise awareness of the economic benefits of a ‘clean revolution’ among policymakers and corporations.

America's next leader

The Climate Group – an international non-profit which enjoys support from political and corporate leaders in the US and around the world, and the Secretariat of Climate Week NYC - calls for the next US administration to place climate change and clean energy at the heart of America’s economic strategy, and for action to maintain the US’ lead in technological innovation – including a tripling of federal research and development in clean energy. 

Clean energy innovation

Entrepreneur and Twitter co-founder Evan Williams commented: “America's long history of prosperity was built by entrepreneurial innovators in science and technology. These visionaries imagined and then created a new and better way of doing things which was the catalyst for a century of prosperity. We need powerful new thinking in that same vein in order to challenge and transcend the limits of our high-carbon economy with clean energy innovation.”

“There is a danger that the polarization of politics will move us even further away from the problem-solving culture that is key to our prosperity. The longer politicians argue, and especially the more prominent political leaders sign on to the litmus test of a party base that scientists can't be trusted and climate change is a hoax, the more time and commercial advantage we lose. The basic reality that climate change is real and destructive needs to be accepted and no longer be denied by anybody who cares about America's future– and needs to be back front stage on the political agenda. America needs to move, and fast, to ensure that we are not left behind in the clean energy race. Failure to take global leadership of the fast-growing clean energy market will be the biggest missed opportunity of a generation,” said academic and commentator Norman Ornstein.

American entrepreneurship

The report - “An American Clean Revolution: Why the US should play to win on the clean economy” - said that there needs to be “a reinvigorated, bi-partisan, public-private partnership of government and corporate leaders in support of low carbon entrepreneurship,” adding that American companies need to be ready to claim their stake in the rapidly expanding global clean tech market, which is expected to be worth $2 trillion by the end of the decade. Global business leaders said they were supporting the ‘American Clean Revolution’, stressing the business benefits of acting on climate change and investment in the clean economy.

“The purpose of Climate Week NYC is to say one major thing to the US and the world: Combating climate change is massively in our best interest if we want higher energy supply security, lower costs and a better life. As global citizens we are going to continue to be agitating for a solution to this problem which is absolutely critical to the future of human progress. It may well be that not governments but a bottom-up revolution of businesses, states, cities and consumers, a Clean Revolution is going to drive forward a solution to climate change. The Climate Group, the first business NGO, has been, throughout its history, instrumental in driving this revolution forward,” said Former UK Prime Minister and Chair of The Climate Group International Leadership Council Tony Blair.

Economic recovery

“The recent weather events were tremendous and had a tremendous human and economic toll across the globe. When you look at 2011, there was about 130 billion dollars of economic loss during that time, yet only $60 billion of that loss was covered by insurance. You’ve got the insurer of last resort – basically government and other political jurisdictions – that have to come in and pick up the difference between these, which puts extreme pressures on the taxpayers of those jurisdictions,” said Walter Bell, Chairman, Swiss Re America.

“Philips’ work with The Climate Group globally and at Climate Week NYC is part of our commitment to lead innovation in intelligent lighting and provide meaningful solutions that improve the quality of life for global citizens. In the US alone, a conservative 40% energy efficiency increase would accrue US$53 billion in annual energy cost savings. Making the transition to LED lighting could create a significant number of local jobs. Intelligent lighting is one example of a Clean Revolution technology that can transform communities for the better,” said Zia Eftekhar, CEO, Philips Professional Luminaries North America.

Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development, said: “Faced with conclusive scientific evidence of the impacts of climate change, especially on the world's poorest, and a new global agreement some years off, we're in a ‘make-or-break’ decade for action on global warming. Unlocking both public and, importantly, private sector finance to support transformational action on climate change is critical and we applaud the efforts of The Climate Group for advancing this important agenda. At the Bank, climate finance is being ramped up. Last year, we doubled our financial lending that contributes to adaptation. While the Bank administered $7.2 billion Climate Investment Funds are now operating in 48 countries, leveraging investments on average by 12:1 and generating some $80 billion in clean investment."

Energy security

The report’s authors stress the benefits that the American Clean Revolution would have on US energy security, as well as securing America’s position as global leader in tech innovation. They say that a clean energy strategy would lower US dependence on foreign oil imports: the cost of protecting US oil supplies are as high as $140 billion a year, and importing oil now costs each American more than $1,100 per year and accounts for up to 40% of the annual US trade deficit. They also warn that China has passed the US as the world’s number one filer of patent applications, and its research budget has tripled over the past 15 years.

“Recent extreme weather events, and new data about the enormous opportunities for American industries in the clean energy market, highlight just why the time has now come for an American clean energy revolution”, said Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group. “This is the pathway that will end dependence on foreign oil and enhance America’s national and energy security. It is the road to long-term economic growth, job creation and tackling the devastating effects of runaway climate change. However if the US doesn’t act there are others waiting to overtake it in the new clean energy race. Only a bi-partisan, public-private partnership that supports a new generation of American innovators and entrepreneurs to flourish will ensure American leadership in the new global economy.”

According to the report, failure to act on the clean economy could lead to further decline of the US economy and that lost productivity, damages and additional healthcare costs caused by climate change could reach tens of billions of dollars every year. For example, this year’s weather extremes affected 80% of the country and cost the US economy approximately $50 billion.

Proven growth

However, the authors also say that the clean economy has been an American success story during recent difficult economic times; quietly growing over the past two decades into a trillion dollar sector that today employs more people than the fossil fuel industry.

His Serene Highness, Prince Albert II of Monaco said: “While all too often the crisis relegates environmental concerns to second place on the international agenda, it is heart-warming to find ourselves united around a shared conscience. Today, the green economy offers our businesses prospects for growth and profitability. It also shapes the hopes for long-term development in this troubled world. An increasing number of major players in the economy are committed to this path. The most creative minds, those that will contribute to the growth of the future, already have their eyes on the clean revolution. I am delighted that The Climate Group, in partnership with my Foundation among others, is encouraging business and government leaders by communicating the economic opportunities presented by bold climate action.”

Sustainable future

“The recent spate of extreme weather events that have been hitting America are having, and will continue to have, a significant impact on the health of millions of citizens. Climate change unchecked poses very serious health threats that are putting growing burdens on our healthcare system and the economy. Tackling climate change is essential to securing a healthy future for all Americans,” said Cecil Wilson, former President of American Medical Association.

“This year more than ever before we have seen the results of climate change on crops and food production in the US. Farmers are going to be one of the first groups to suffer as extreme weather phenomena multiply with dire results for our capacity to feed our population. Even though this grave threat is upon us, we are wasting valuable time in a polarized discussion about climate – and that when science is clear and the evidence of what’s happening is all around us. We cannot afford to waste more time. America needs to act now to ensure a sustainable future for agriculture both here and around the world,” said Roger Johnson, President of the National Farmers Union.

Deborah Fikes, Executive Advisor to the World Evangelical Alliance, said: “We are guardians of this planet and we are not taking good enough care of it. Our treatment of the earth has destroyed huge areas of natural beauty, pumped pollution into our skies, seas and rivers. This is, of course, before an extinction rate hundreds of times that of the pre-human era is taken into account. We need a long term plan which will protect our planet. Scaling up the clean energy technology we use will help us to do this.”

Climate Week NYC, now in its fourth year, is an annual global summit that brings together eminent business, government and thought leaders during a week-long agenda packed with diverse public-facing events and high-level meetings. Swiss Re is Climate Week NYC’s Founding Sponsor. The Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute is a Golden Sponsor. Bloomberg, ConEdison and HP are Event Sponsors. Climate Week NYC Supporters are Yasuni-ITT Initiative, Québec, tcktcktck, United Nations Foundation and Clean Revolution Campaign Partners are Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Suzlon, Philips, Zennström Philanthropies, Tellus Mater and The Dutch Postcode Lottery. The Clean Revolution Campaign Supporters are the World Bank, nrg4SD, UN Global Compact and Carbon Disclosure Project.

Details of all the events that are part of Climate Week NYC are online and you can read the report, infographics and more about the ‘American Clean Revolution’ at

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