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Lighting a Way toward a Sustainable Energy Future

December 16th, 2008 · No Comments

Yesterday, Barack Obama formally introduced Dr. Steven Chu as the next Secretary of Energy. In his formal statement ( video / transcript), Dr Chu quoted from a study he helped lead, Lighting the Way toward a Sustainable Energy future which was released on 1 August 2008 by the InterAcademy Council.

President-Elect Obama’s introduction of Dr. Chu

Dr. Steven Chu is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who has been working at the cutting edge of our nation’s efforts to develop new and cleaner forms of energy. He blazed trails as a scientist, teacher, and administrator, and has recently led the Berkeley National Laboratory in pursuing new alternative and renewable energies.

Steven is uniquely suited to be our next secretary of energy as we make this pursuit a guiding purpose of the Department of Energy, as well as a national mission.

The scientists at our national labs will have a distinguished peer at the helm. His appointment should send a signal to all that my administration will value science. We will make decisions based on the facts, and we understand that facts demand bold action.

“my administration will value science” and “make decisions based on the facts”. This is revolutionary language, almost not just from the past eight years, but much more a revolution against a too-long American tradition.

And, in the face of dire news on the Global Warming front, Obama is right that the “facts demand bold action.”

Dr. Chu’s comments yesterday:

In the preface to a study, “Lighting the Way: Toward a Sustainable Energy Future,” the two co-chairs, Jose Goldemberg and I, wrote, “We believe that aggressive support of energy, science and technology, coupled with the incentives that accelerate the development and deployment of innovative solutions, can transform the entire landscape of energy, demand and supply.”

What the world does in the coming decade will have enormous consequences that will last for centuries. It’s imperative that we begin without further delay.

On December 10, 1950, William Faulkner spoke at the Nobel banquet in Stockholm. He said, “I believe that man will not merely endure; he will prevail. He is immortal, because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion, and sacrifice, and endurance.”

President-elect Obama has set the tone and pace for moving our country forward with optimism and calm determination. I hope to emulate his example. With these virtues, the United States and the world can and will prevail over our economic, energy and climate change challenges.

“imperative that begin without further delay” in face of “enormous consequences” as to what we do “in the coming decade”. A call to arms and action!

By the way, let us remember that while we face extremely enormous “challenges”, these create opportunities which we must seek to exploit to maximum advantage toward creating not just a climate-friendly future, but a prosperous one.

But, from the overview of Lighting the Way:

this report identifies a scientific consensus framework for directing global energy development. It lays out the science, technology and policy roadmap for developing energy resources to drive economic growth in both industrialized and developing countries while also securing climate protection and global development goals.

This framework examined the challenge holistically, not just science but also technological status and policy environment. Not just ‘climate’, but also economy.

Lighting the way establishes the best practices for a global transition to a clean, affordable and sustainable energy supply in both developing and developed countries. The report addresses incentives that can accelerate the development of innovative solutions, provides recommendations for financial investments in research and development and explores other transition pathways that can transform the landscape of energy supply and demand around the globe.

Clean … affordable … sustainable.

In addressing mitigation of the environmental impacts of energy generation and use, Lighting the way informs global action on climate change, such as implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, agenda setting for the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, and ongoing multinational talks on future global action to reduce greenhouse emissions.

Lighting the way also confronts the unequal access to energy experienced by the one-third of the world’s population without access to basic energy services, and makes recommendations for addressing this disparity as well as for promoting national and global energy security.

For some reason, one might think that this study will have quite a few new readers in the coming weeks.

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Tags: Energy · Obama Administration