As any who come to these pages are already aware, my passion is clear … helping my/your family, my/your community, my/your nation, my/our world find a path toward a prosperous and sustainable energy future. A path that will help us (US) navigate the dangerous seas of the Perfect Storm combination of Peak Oil (and other peak natural resources), Global Warming, and the Financial Meltdown around the globe.
At their core, all three of these challenges are resource challenges. And, solution paths exist to each of these challenges, even if finding our way to that solution could be extremely challenging. An even greater complexity is the simultaneity of these challenges. We must confront, tackle, solve each of these in a coordinated, reinforcing manner as the perfect solution for one challenge might be a lesser response, or even disaster, in another arena. What is the classic example of this? Investing in coal-to-liquids and tar sands could help ameliorate Peak Oil’s impact while providing the straw that breaks the camel’s back on our reckless rush into catastrophic climate change.
We must chart a course and find steady heads to navigate the treacherous seas of these converging of three major storms into the 21st Century’s Perfect Storm. We will either, in the next few years, chart and begin navigating such a course … or we can rest assured that human civilization will become shipwrecked in the coming decades, leaving behind something unfamiliar and undesirable to those currently enjoying the fruits of ‘developed’ global society.
The bright spot in this gloom: it is possible to chart a course.
And, even in the face of the immediacy of a global fiscal crisis and calls for fiscal discipline against any new spending and concerns that economic woes are chilling global warming action, even before the election, ever more voices were calling for a “green” route to a prosperous and climate-friendly global society. Back in October, Politico ran Can green jobs save us? which looked at how both Barack Obama and John McCain are speaking about “Green Jobs” as a core part of the path forward. (Even though John McCain’s rhetoric is, well, mainly hot air.) And, other voices called for ever greater boldness in the face of these crises.
this is a time to think big. We have to grow our way out of the economic depths. We have to use the money we’ll spend wisely enough to create external benefits for the next 50 to 60 years, to wire America like we electrified America in the 1930s, to fix the roads and bridges the way we built them then, to create a new, clean energy grid to replace the old one that served us well. We can not only face the biggest challenges in the world and create a sustainable economy at the same time, but they can complement each other. And we can say “hell no” to those Wise Men of Washington and the conservatives they enable, whose ideas on budgets and fiscal responsibility and supply-side economics have been totally discredited. We need only to have courage in crisis, and a willingness to lead the way.
At Grist, David Roberts articulated how the economic crisis should prompt more green infrastructure spending, not less
Before conventional wisdom hardens in the other direction, greens need to get out and start arguing that the current financial mess is not a reason to trim back our green ambitions, but to accelerate them with liberal spending on a smart grid, public transit, and other job-creating, emission-reducing, capital-intensive projects. Save the economy, save the planet.
Say hello to Obama’s Trojan horse—a climate policy hidden inside an energy-and-economic policy. Obama takes Gore’s energy trifecta, lops off the climate message, and stores it in the belly of the beast while energy independence and economic renewal drive the contraption forward.
But it does not have to be a “Trojan horse,” a hidden agenda.
We can, we should, we must extol the power of combining these challenges and placing a path that provides “a” real solution to these (and, actually, other) very serious challenges before us.
Investing for a smart energy future would:
We saw tremendous movement in the Presidential campaign on energy issues, especially on the D side, with the candidates outbidding each other on better energy policy. President-Elect Obama has spoken strongly on climate issues and put forward a very progressive (read: realist and fact-based) team when it comes to energy and environmental policy.
Within this movement and building on it, what follows is part of the concepts that should help guide us in the coming months and years, in words that might be fit for a weekly Presidential-elect video-log.
The E2 Solution PathCharting a Path for a Prosperous and Sustainable Energy Future
We need to speak to and recognize that the world faces three interconnected problems: Fiscal Crisis, Peak Oil and Global Warming. Three Es: Economy, Energy, Environment. Any of these would be serious issues meriting serious attention. Attention that this White House has been either unwilling or simply unable of providing. The fiscal crisis, Global Warming, and Peak Oil threaten today’s and tomorrow’s Americans and America’s national security. Threats that this Administration has chosen to ignore and thus have, with every passing day, increased America’s and Americans’ vulnerabilities to the devastations that the Fiscal Crisis, Peak Oil and Global Warming are bringing to Americans today and could bring into the future.
These are serious threats to not just our lifestyles, but to our very security, the combination moves them from serious threats, to fundamental threats to us … to all of us … to the United States of America.
Again, sadly, these real, impending, and mounting threats are ones that this Administration has chosen to ignore as they pursue illusory threats with policies that weaken America.
While the Bush-Cheney Administration has chosen to ignore these threats, the States have not been. I and my fellow Senatorsrecognized these issues, their critical importance, how they threaten our citizens, and we worked to pursue policies within the Senate to change directions in energy use and develop alternative, renewable energy sources.
In January 2009, I will move energy innovation from the campaign trail and transition office to the White House.
And, with that innovation, I will turn the nation from its broken Bush-Cheney fiscal malfeasance, dead-end energy concepts, and Global Warming denial policy to a win-win-win-win path that will strengthen America’s economy while turning us away from our reckless path into unknown risks from a inexorably warming world.
To be honest, one of the things that most frustrates me about Global Warming Skeptics, like those currently occupying the Oval Office and the Office of the Vice President, is their constant misleading of people on issues that are, quite literally, issues of life or death.
Well, it is here in the arena of win or lose that we see their misleading. When it comes to the interaction of economy, energy and environment, without batting an eyelid, they will look you in the face and tell you that you have a choice between these: the Environment with clean energy or the Economy powered by dirty energy. And, they will argue that somehow, Environment vs Economy are actually separable and in opposition to each other. That you can either have lights on at night and warm homes or a clean environment. That you can either have good jobs or polar bears far away from you in the Arctic. That you can either have a functioning economy or a functioning environment.
Let me tell you in no uncertain terms. It is not an “or” situation. It is “and”. We must have both the environment and the economy. There is no economy to care about without an environment that can sustain us and our children. And, there is no economy worth having if it devastates the world we live in and that might destroy the world of our children.
E2 … Environment and Economy. Economy and Environment.
What is truly misleading in the Environment or Economy formulation is that we truly don’t need to make this choice.
Pursuing smart energy policies that reduce our Global Warming impact will strengthen the economy, not weaken it.
Smart businesses recognize that being smart about energy is, simply, smart business. General Electric … Dupont … Walmart. These are not companies that anyone accuses of not being run by hard-nosed business leaders. Of being businesses that fail to seek profit wherever they can achieve it. Yet, these are the sorts of companies that are rejecting the environment versus economy dichotomy and discovering profit via a holistic understanding of environment and economy.
General Electric has its focus on Eco-Imagination. Does anyone doubt that GE isn’t doing well with its wind turbine production in an environment where wind energy production is growing at a 26 percent rate per year in the United States? Forget economy or environment, General Electric is generating profits while doing environmentally sound actions. An E2 solution path.
As for Dupont, according to Chad Holliway, Dupont’s Chief Executive Officer
in 1994, Dupont set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by the year 2000. They achieved that goal on schedule. Then Dupont set a goal to reduce its greenhouse emissions by 65 percent by 2010. They made that goal as well. In fact, they achieved a 72 percent reduction by 2004, six years ahead of schedule, and avoided costs of over $3 billion by holding Dupont’s energy use six percent below 1990 levels.
Dupont saved three billion dollars, money that went to their shareholders and back into their business to generate future profits, even while they cut their greenhouse gas emissions by a huge amount.
Profit through a sustainable path. The Economy AND the Environment. An E2 solution path.
Now, I mentioned a third company, Wal-Mart. To start with, when I am President come 2009, I will have many things to talk about with Lee Scott, Wal-Mart’s CEO. We will have to talk about labor practices. We will have to talk about health care. We will talk about how Wal-mart can work to strengthen American suppliers. And, well, I will have many things to say … we will have many things to talk about that Lee Scott might not find so comfortable to discuss.
But, we will also talk about energy.
But, when it comes to energy, I have to say that I think that I will be much more in a listening mode. Because I — and most of America and even many around the world — have much to learn from Wal-Mart when it comes to energy issues.
I recently learned that Wal-Mart is investing 500 million dollars per year on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainability programs. 500 million dollars. Think of that number. An investment by a private company. That is, we must admit, quite a lot of money. But, well, Wal-Mart is a large company, bigger than the economy of most nations in the world. Even so, 500 million dollars isn’t a trivial amount of money.
But, on top of that big number, what is truly astounding is how profitable they are finding that $500 million per year. They earn the money back in two years! Two years!
Wal-Mart has committed, over a five-year period, to cut its energy use by at least twenty percent and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least thirty percent.
How are they doing it? Every Wal-Mart has a white roof that reduces the requirement for air conditioning. Oh, by the way, that roof also reflects sun back into space rather than, as with a traditional black roof, capturing the heat so it stays within the atmosphere. Thus, the white roof helps reduce Global Warming impacts while saving Wal-Mart money. The roofs have sophisticated skylights, meaning that stores often operate without lights on, just on sunlight. This saves Wal-Mart money while reducing pollution from They are putting doors on their refrigerators and using advanced LED lights in them, cutting their refrigeration energy requirement by 70 percent! They have put auxiliary power units on their trucks, so the drivers turn off the engines when stopped, rather than being in idle for much of the day. They are … well, they are doing many things. And, they are making money through all their approaches.
What else are they doing? They are taking what they’ve learned and giving lessons to their suppliers, helping their suppliers cut energy use. Let’s look at their business model, they cut their suppliers’ energy use which means that they should get some of the savings their supplier realizes through reduced energy use. And, even more surprisingly, Wal-Mart is opening its books to its competitors, helping other businesses cut their energy use.
Now, I am not saying that Dupont doesn’t pollute. Nor I am asserting that General Electric solely engages in global warming friendly business activities. Nor do I believe that Wal-Mart does not have practices that damage the environment. No, of course not. But, each of these companies has staked out leadership positions on smart energy practices and sustainability issues. They recognize that smart energy and sustainable practices are not just public relations gimmicks, but serious ways to improve the bottom line. They are finding a smart path that combines improved profitable, improved economic performance, while, at the same time, reducing their global warming impact, their environmental footprint. They are pursuing business models that combine Environment and Economy … Economy and Environment … They are finding their way down the E2 path toward a more sustainable and more profitable future.
Smart businesses recognize the E2 path. Smart leaders — whether in the business of making profits or in the business of leading the nation — recognize that we are not talking about a choice, we must pursue the E2 path: it is the economy and the environment.
And, the E2 path is a win-win-win-win path … My E2 path for a sustainable and prosperous energy future will be a:
• WIN for America and all Americans through reducing the burden of imported oil costs;
• WIN for America and all Americans by leading to increased exports;
• WIN for American businesses, who will regain leadership positions in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, to sell not just to Americans but around the globe;
• WIN for rural America, with renewable energy systems like windmills generating revenue for farmers and good jobs to maintain them; increasingly effective biofuels systems; and the potential for new energy approaches, such as making charcoal from agricultural waste that we burn for elecricity and then use the ashes to fertilize the fields;
• WIN for America and all Americans through an improved security of our energy system, reducing the risk of disruption in the face of natural or man-made disasters;
• WIN for America and all Americans through improved health, such as reducing the near epidemic levels of asthma in our youth by reduced pollution;
• WIN for America and all Americans by reversing the seemingly inexorable growth in greenhouse gas emissions and setting us — all of us. all the world — on a path to avoid devastating Global Warming damage.
• WIN for America and all Americans through restoring America’s leadership position in the world, a position so eroded over the past six years.
• WIN … well, we could speak for days about all the ways all of us will win from a smart, E2 energy future.
Now, let’s talk about what it might take to get to this WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN, okay, you get it, future.
Let me use Wal-Mart again for a moment. Wal-Mart represents about one percent of the economy. One percent of America ‘s energy use. If Wal-Mart is spending $500 million, and getting a two-year return on investment, then perhaps the benchmark for the federal government should be a minimum of 100 times that, or no less than 50 billion dollars, per year, in new U.S. government spending on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and non-greenhouse gas emission energy options. Now, truly, in the face of our economic challenges, we must spend more to spark the economy. But, that spending enables us, the United States, to gain the benefits of that spending even faster. Thus, as part of a stimulus package, at least five times that should go into these arenas for the coming few years: $250 billion per year. Perhaps we won’t see a “two year” return on the investment, but we will see a return … and a serious one.
Our generation faces serious challenges. Challenges the Bush-Cheney Administration has refused to take seriously. As President-Elect, I take these challenges seriously.
As President, I will take them seriously.
As President, I will work with Congress.
I will work with Governors and State Legislators.
I will work with leaders around the world.
I will work with American business.
I will work with international institutions.
Andd, I will work with America’s greatest asset, her citizens, to carve out a better future.
Steering a course by the E2 Solution path will see America and all Americans through the serious challenges of Peak Oil and Global Warming. It will strengthen America, internally and in our position in the world. And, the E2 Solution path will help move the entire world toward a more secure, more peaceful, and more prosperous future.
In future speeches and point papers, I will be laying out some of the policies that my administration would pursue. Some of the ways that that 250 billion dollars per year would provide a real return on investment to America’s shareholders: our citizens.
A real return that will improve lives of today’s Americans … and tomorrow’s.
As President, pursuing the E2 win-win-win solution path will be core to my Presidency.
- We will enrich America and Americans by pursuing a smart and sustainable energy policy.
- We will strengthen America in every sense of the term.
- We will, together, chart a course for better future for all of us … all of US … and of the United States of America.
This is written in the form of a speech that I believe could speak to a wide breadth of Americans. That could help turn the nation toward a better path. That could help to Energize America.
From my perspective, while originally written over two years ago, this speech still holds its power and relevance.