Green Cross International held a panel discussion 2 December at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan exploring the economic opportunity of addressing climate change for the business community and the policy outlook for a clean energy future from the new Obama administration and at the EU level.
Panellists included Dr Jan Kulczyk, Chairman of Green Cross International, William Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project, Giulietto Chiesa, Member of the European Parliament, Michael Liebreich, the Chairman and Chief Executive of New Energy Finance and Alexander Likhotal, President of Green Cross International. The panel concluded with presentations by Alexandra Kravetz of Global Green USA, who presented the first annual Global Solar Report Card and Hugh Jorgensen of Green Cross Australia, who presented a report on the climate change impact of sea level rises and the recommended government response to displacement of 142 million “environmental refugees” in the Asia-Pacific region.
Dr Kulczyk opened the panel by highlighting the role business can play in financing clean energy technology through private-public partnerships and reminding audience members that “every crisis is an opportunity” and now is the time to restore economic growth and fight climate change through the transition to clean energy.
Mr. Becker followed by going into depth on the expectations for President-Elect Obama’s administration, noting that in addition to President-Elect Obama, the change in congressional leadership in Washington DC means energy and climate change would become top priorities with the possibility of creating 2.5 million jobs in the new clean economy. He finished by quoting Winston Churchill, saying “the United States invariably does the right thing, after having exhausted every other alternative.”
Mr Chiesa, a member of the European Parliament from Italy, took the floor next by explaining that Europe was the best place to lead the fight against climate change if leaders accept their new responsibilities and educate the public. He went on to say that a new political and institutional vision needs to be established capable of overcoming obstacles to introducing new systems of change on the “road to Copenhagen’s revolution in our minds”.
Mr. Liebreich followed with a four-point plan to get the economy on track and get business involved in the fight against climate change, which starts with a monetary stimulus, followed by a fiscal stimulus, raising the tax burden on dirty industries and lastly greater international cooperation. He explained that it is ultimately the responsibility of government to enable the investment because “markets won’t solve the problem because clean is more expensive than dirty”.
Mr. Likhotal concluded the panel by noting that the financial, economic and climate change crisis were not a coincidence, but rather a crisis of leadership. Noting a Russian saying: “We would not be lucky if not for the misfortune we have” he claimed that “going green” now during the economic downturn simply matches long-term objectives to short-term needs and that the world needs to tackle the transition from a high-carbon to a low-carbon economy if we want to dig ourselves quicker out of the recession and begin building a genuinely sustainable world economy.
The panel discussion was immediately followed by the presentations from Global Green USA and Green Cross Australia. The Solar Report Card grades 14 countries and the state of California on their solar markets and technologies. The report analyzed both solar technologies installed, as well as policy frameworks, including financial and regulatory incentives with 30% of the grade being based on progress and 70% on drivers for new development. In her presentation, Ms. Kravetz from Global Green USA reported that Germany came out on top with the State of California coming in second while both Russia and host Poland received failing grades.
The Green Cross Australia report was the final report presented to the Australian government from the People’s Assembly, a panel of 14 citizens held in August to discuss sustainable solutions for victims of sea-level rise.