What a Difference a Year Makes: Poznań Here We Come

Posted 11.23.2008

While the U.S. has a bad economic hangover, the global climate crisis won’t go away, no matter what aspirin we take, or new President we elect.

President-Elect Obama has admirably taken an unprecedented step by committing our country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Twelve months ago, when my business partner and I  attended the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, US diplomats wouldn’t even commit to a 50 percent reduction. A rare public booing from 189 other countries shamed our country into a quasi-agreement to sign the Bali agreement.

Heretofore, most of the international debate was about the level of effort required by the largest polluting countries, namely the United States versus emerging countries like China and India. The US negotiators whined about China and India’s commitment. It was uncharacteristically embarrassing for us to tell any of the other conferences that we were from the United States of America. Their next question was, “What state are you from?” We replied sheepishly, “Texas.” They knew if Texas were a country, we’d be one of the world’s top 10 emitters of greenhouse gases. They also knew our state was the biggest hold-outs from the Western Governors’ Association effort to implement a cap-and-trade greenhouse gas emissions reduction program.

With the 2008 economic recession, some advised Obama to take the lower, but still aggressive emissions reduction goal.

This year, my business partner Valerie Davis and I, decided it was important to speak out about the importance of immediate next steps in this global debate. The San Jose Mercury News agreed with our assessment by publishing our opinion editorial. We were pleased to see Mr. Obama address this specific foreign diplomacy issue a few days later.

The Minister of Environment of Swaziland (Africa), among others from Japan and India, told me their greatest hope was for US companies to focus on energy efficiency solutions that their own countries could purchase and implement.

This year, we’ll be delegates to the 2008 UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland (Dec. 1-12), as representatives of the US Business Council for Sustainable Development.  Most global companies have accepted the facts on global warming, and are calling for consistent government regulations to make their manufacturing consistent.

Few American media outlets have published news that the UN published a draft document for the Poznań meeting.

How does a country go from “loser to leader?” It can happen, if we kick-start our high tech companies and university researchers into finding big-time energy efficiency solutions to reduce greenhouse gases.

Idea #1: US Government should fund a collaborative research effort to build the longest-lasting battery technology. Imagine how much better life would be if you didn’t have to recharge your laptop, cell phone or hybrid car every hour. Life is easier. Save time, emissions and money.