climate policy is good business
Global warming has arrived in Silicon Valley.
On Dec. 6, a gathering of technology business leaders will attend a
first-of-its-kind event at Stanford University to bridge the worlds of
climate policy and commerce.
The aim is to improve corporate performance and profitability in the
face of growing concerns over climate disruption and constraints on the
availability of fossil fuels.
Featuring former Vice President Al Gore; Terry Tamminen, cabinet
secretary for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; climate authority David
Hawkins; and faculty from Stanford's new Institute for the Environment,
the event will explore ways to mitigate the impacts of climate change
while growing the economy.
This event reflects many of the core messages of an organization of
which I am co-founder, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), a national,
non-partisan group of business leaders who advocate for rational
E2 argues that good environmental performance goes hand in hand with
strong economic performance, and that economic realities are the most
persuasive drivers of environmental progress. Our experience proves
this to be true.
Take energy. Solving America's energy problem presents a huge economic opportunity.
Our national dependence on fossil fuels will make us or break us,
depending on whether we choose, at last, to do something real about it.
In addition to all the national and economic security problems we bear
in the name of oil, scientists are increasingly sure that our
consumption of carbon-based fuels is causing profound, unnatural shifts
in our global climate patterns. We need vision and leadership to fuel
our future. Unfortunately, both are lacking in Washington.
Last May, I and 17 other E2 members met with nearly 50 members of
Congress, Republicans and Democrats, to promote the idea that clean
energy is good for both the environment and business. We presented a
statement signed by more than 80 venture capitalists and investors
urging Congress to set limits on emissions of global-warming pollution
to stimulate investment in clean technologies. We also called for a
national oil savings plan and a commitment to deploy clean technologies
on government projects.
Our message was well received, but many legislators are still not
ready to commit to a new direction in energy policy. The energy bill
Congress finally passed last summer is a case in point.
We've known for years we can't possibly drill our way to energy
independence, yet the bill subsidizes massive oil exploration in our
most sensitive public lands and along protected coastlines.
Positive oil-reduction strategies such as increased vehicle
fuel-efficiency standards and requiring that renewable resources
provide 10 percent of our electricity by 2020 never got real
Without federal leadership, we'll have to rely on what I call
"bubble-up economics," and Silicon Valley's entrepreneurial
communities are leading the way. The clean-technology sector,
businesses addressing efficient resource management, now receives $1.4
billion annually, 7 percent of total venture dollars placed.
Policies such as California's clean-cars law, which cuts
global-warming pollution from cars, and the recently passed alternative
fuels bill that promotes non-petroleum-based transportation fuels in
our state are creating further incentives for investment in new energy
technologies such as biofuels, which would allow us to grow our fuel,
and not have to drill for it.
The good news is that investing in change offers enormous
opportunity to reinvigorate our economy. The event Dec. 6 may be a
pivotal moment in the next chapter of Silicon Valley. We have the
technological expertise, entrepreneurial spirit and financial
infrastructure in place to lead the next revolution.
"The Heat is On: Silicon Valley Takes on Global Warming"
When: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6.
Where: Memorial Auditorium, Stanford University
Tickets: Free, but must be reserved by Tuesday by contacting Erin Strain at firstname.lastname@example.org or (650) 528-4688.
NICOLE LEDERER is co-founder of Environmental Entrepreneurs (www.e2.org) and a trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council.