A Climate Exchange
On December 14, the Sierra Club convened a panel of heavyweights from the political, public policy, business, and scientific communities for a day-long forum in San Francisco, "Helping America Take the Lead: A Climate Exchange." A roundtable brainstorming session at Club headquarters, moderated by Club Executive Director Carl Pope, was followed by an afternoon presentation of the panel's recommendations at the Commonwealth Club of California, the nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum.
Presiding at the afternoon session was former Vice President Al Gore, pictured above with Pope and Stanford University climatologist Stephen Schneider. Rounding out the panel were Paul Anderson, Chairman and CEO of Duke Energy; Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems; Bettina Poirier, global warming policy advisor to California Senator Barbara Boxer; and Dan Reicher, president of New Energy Capital and former Energy Department official in the Clinton administration. Senator Boxer joined the panel for the afternoon session. Among the panel's recommendations: the urgency of setting a "carbon price" on greenhouse gas emissions, and the importance of government kick-starting the process by sending a clear signal to capital markets that carbon dioxide emissions will be bad for the bottom line.
Senator Barbara Boxer at the Commonwealth Club panel discussion. "Global warming is coming together as a consensus issue in a bipartisan way," she said. "I'm beginning to see Republican senators come to me on global warming who've never done so before."
Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla makes a point at the morning roundtable session. Khosla said no replacement for oil, coal, and plastics will work in the marketplace until it's cheaper than its fossil fuel competitor. "We already have the technological solutions," he said, "but we need stable long-term policy to get Wall Street to invest."
Duke Energy Chairman Paul Anderson during a break in the morning brainstorming session. "Until there are penalties for emitting carbons, business won't move," he asserted. "A clear signal from government, such as a carbon tax, would make clear that emitting carbon is a liability, not an asset."
New Energy Capital President Dan Reicher listens during the roundtable working session. "We need to put a price on carbon," Reicher told the crowd at the Commonwealth Club. "Everything else is secondary."