Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko | July 4, 2013

New Energy Opportunities and perils ahead

The President of the United States had some plan in the past but it never got past the House and thus the Climate Change issue was all but forgotten during his first term in office and this seemed to be the pattern for the second one as well…

Yet it appears that now Obama has gotten some much needed backbone.  His electoral promises for dealing with Climate Change are now remembered.  Maybe the issue was resurrected under the pressure of the vast NSA spying scandals of an agency spying on the American public willy-nilly like a modern day Stazi.  Or maybe his mishandling of the liberty & privacy vs security balance as written in the Constitution of America — being trashed amid the runaway Police State the NSA has instituted, in his watch. No matter. Now he has decided to do something about what really matters.

He has now chosen to go it alone and face Climate change bravely attempting to salvage his Administration’s record… but most importantly attempting to save this world we all share from Climate Catastrophe.

Here is the transcript of his speech with actionable intelligence on investing against Climate Change: http://thehill.com/images/stories/news/2013/06_june/25/obama-climate-plan.pdf

And here is our commentary offered by two of our friends — rather erudite and intelligent men — who reacted thus and are writing expressly as a response on the subject of ENERGY after the President’s Climate Change speech last week:

Our friend Thomas Friedman had this to say through the pages of the New York Times, in an article titled; The Amazing Energy Race…

” President Obama delivered his most important national security and jobs speech last week. I think he also mentioned something about climate change.
The headline from Obama’s speech was his decision to cut America’s carbon emissions by bypassing a dysfunctional Congress and directing the Environmental Protection Agency to implement cleaner air-quality standards. If the rules are enacted — they will face many legal challenges — it would hasten our switching from coal to natural gas for electricity generation. Natural gas emits about half the global-warming carbon dioxide of coal, and it is in growing supply in our own country. As a result of market forces alone, coal has already fallen from about one-half to one-third of America’s electric power supply.

But I would not get caught up in the anti-carbon pollution details of the president’s speech. I’d focus on the larger messages. The first is that we need to reorder our priorities and start talking about the things that are most consequential for our families, communities, nation and world. That starts with how we’re going to power the global economy at a time when the planet is on track to grow from seven billion to nine billion people in 40 years, and most of them will want to live like Americans, with American-style cars, homes and consumption patterns. If we don’t find a cleaner way to grow, we’re going to smoke up, choke up and burn up this planet so much faster than anyone predicts. That traffic jam on the Beijing-Tibet highway in 2010 that stretched for 60 miles, involved 10,000 vehicles and took 10 days to unlock is a harbinger of what will come.

“In reducing coal’s historic dominance, the president is formalizing a market trend that was already taking shape,” remarked Andy Karsner, who was an assistant secretary of energy in the last Bush administration. His bigger message, though, was “no matter where you find yourself on the political spectrum, it’s useful for the nation to discuss, debate and consider a strategy for climate change. The consequences of inaction are potentially greater than all the other noise out there.”

Sadly, many Republican “leaders” rejected Obama’s initiative, claiming it would cost jobs. Really? Marvin Odum, the president of the Shell Oil Company, told me in an interview that phasing out coal for cleaner natural gas — and shifting more transport, such as big trucks and ships, to natural gas instead of diesel — “is a no-brainer, no-lose, net-win that you can’t fight with a straight face.”

But, remember, natural gas is a fine gift to our country if, and only if, we extract it in a way that does not leak methane into the atmosphere (methane being worse than carbon dioxide when it comes to global warming) and if, and only if, we extract it in ways that don’t despoil land, air or water. The Environmental Defense Fund is working with big oil companies, like Shell, to ensure both.

But there is one more huge caveat: We also have to ensure that cheap natural gas displaces coal but doesn’t also displace energy efficiency and renewables, like solar or wind, so that natural gas becomes a bridge to a clean energy future, not a ditch. It would be ideal to do this through legislation and not E.P.A. fiat, but Republicans have blocked that route, which is pathetic because the best way to do it is with a Republican idea from the last Bush administration: a national clean energy standard for electricity generation — an idea the G.O.P. only began to oppose when Obama said he favored it.

Such a standard would say to every utility: “Your power plants can use any fuel and technology you want to generate electricity as long as the total amount of air pollutants and greenhouse gases they emit (in both fuel handling and its electricity conversion) meet steadily increasing standards for cleaner air and fewer greenhouse gases. If you want to meet that standard with natural gas, sequestered coal, biomass, hydro, solar, wind or nuclear, be our guest. Let the most cost-effective clean technology win.”

By raising the standard a small amount every year, we’d ensure continuous innovation in clean power technologies — and jobs that are a lot better than coal mining. You can’t make an appliance, power plant, factory or vehicle cleaner without making it smarter — with smarter materials, smarter software or smarter designs. Nothing would do more to ensure America’s national security, stimulate more good jobs and global exports — the whole world needs these technologies — than a national clean energy standard. And, of course, the climate would hugely benefit.

Improving our energy system plays to our innovation strength. Clinging to our fossil-fuel past plays to the strengths of Russia and Iran. Why would we do that? Why would the G.O.P.? It’s already losing young voters. Question: How many college campuses today have environmental clubs and how many have coal clubs?

“The Germans and the Chinese are already in this clean energy race, and we’re still just talking about it,” said Hal Harvey, the chief executive of Energy Innovation. “The question is: Do we want to control our energy future, or continue to rent it from other countries?”

Another Friend Jigar Shah had this to say on our approach to the Tectonic Shift taking place towards Renewables in order to address Climate Change:

” With a 20% shift in our annual infrastructure spending from 20th century technology to 21st century technology we can drive a new global $10 trillion economy by 2020.

That was an undercurrent in a powerful speech President Obama delivered last week, demanding EPA set new standards for climate change to reverse its effect on our health and the environment. That bold action will help set goals to meet the desire of many to clean the environment. The president also noted: “A low carbon clean energy economy could be an engine for growth for years to come,” asserting that deploying American innovation by using our natural resources more effectively help boost the economy.

As impressive as the speech was, the president passed on the opportunity to focus on how the United States will compete with Germany and Japan as the largest climate-based wealth creators. One way would be to be prescriptive on how the federal government, the largest energy user in the world, could lead the way in leveraging climate change into economic growth.

He did not say, for example, “to lead the way I have directed the vice president to hold weekly meetings to make sure that my executive orders and directives are implemented to their fullest extent. From our goal of 20% renewable energy by 2020 to spending the $80B in super ESPC money we have to buy next generation vehicles. The federal government will lead the way and not leave the burden of scale to the private sector alone.” ”

Government must take the lead

The president has a golden opportunity to unlock the largest wealth creation opportunity of our time. He said solutions resulting in clean water and clean air regulation would be a good thing for business. Being good is not the same as asserting American exceptionalism by unleashing the power of American entrepreneurs, investors, and corporations onto the world stage to unlock a climate change economic revolution.

The president gave a bold speech, but what we need is recognition of the important role of government to deploy solutions. Here are the facts:

We have old infrastructure — so old that many believe we will have increasing electrical blackouts, ever rising transportation costs, water that is scarce and difficult to keep clean, not to mention the fact that it is not resilient enough to withstand the impacts from climate change – and this is only in the developed world.
We have 2.6 billion people on earth without adequate sanitation, 1.3 billion people without electricity, and another billion with untreated water.

Yet, the progress in the 20th century and the spread of information in the 21st century, assures there is hope. We have the technology, mostly American, necessary to meet the carbon emission reduction targets of 2020. As noted, the investment needed to bring about this change globally is $10 trillion by 2020 – just a 20% shift in our global annual infrastructure spending from 20th century technology to 21st century technology.

And, we have sound economic incentives. Since 1999, oil prices are up 5X around $100/barrel, coal prices are up 5X to $100/ton. Plus, coal power plants have been a major cause of water shortages making our current crop of climate change and resource solutions the largest wealth creation opportunity on the planet. These clean energy solutions are much cheaper and represent a “leapfrog” technology in the emerging markets. Big Data solutions unlocked by American ingenuity can finally make elusive energy efficiency opportunities a reality – in a very short period of time.

Consider the entrepreneurs

The challenge is that while the technology exists we still don’t have the business model and financial innovation necessary to attract the $10 trillion by 2020. The president can change that. How? By thinking beyond just the EPA, and stop limiting thinking about how to recycle 20th century solutions like Fannie Mae and come up with 21st century solutions like crowdfunding. Crowdfunding, for example, allows investors to band together to quickly fund low-risk stable clean energy infrastructure projects, a better investment than settling for 3% annuity payments for the next 30 years of their life.

President Obama made clear that he believes in our entrepreneurs, investors, and corporations who bringing climate change solutions to market. What he did not do is inspire thousands more to join them to unleash a climate wealth economy. These folks are all motivated to do well by doing good.

Our inspiration is not to just fix climate change, it is to ignite the next economy by meeting our energy needs using climate change solutions. Climate change is a trillion dollar opportunity masquerading a crisis. The next step for the president is to jump-start this next economy with the federal government taking the lead.

As much as I respect Europe and China, America is still the last remaining superpower. Countries around the world are looking not just for the moral message, but also for actions that drive the global economy. An American president can powerfully lead the world economy by dismissing the belief to solve climate change we must all sacrifice. Rather he needs to spread the message that climate change solutions represent the largest wealth creation opportunity of our lifetime. ”

Yours,
Pano

PS:
The World has moved on and the US was left behind in many crucial aspects of the Climate Change issue and of the Green Energies.

Now is time to catch up.

Simple as that

 


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