It always surprises me when someone is claiming that a transition to intermittent energy sources is “good for the economy”. This evening I was watching the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space & Technology hearing of last Tuesday titled: “Paris climate promise: a bad deal for America” and yes, again there was someone praising such transition and how good it all would be.
The praise came from Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the World Resources Institute, who had the dubious task of defending the outcome of the Paris climate conference last December. Although I liked his enthusiasm, I had the impression that he wasn’t alway very honest, for example when describing the commitments of China and India. I think he greatly oversold the outcome of the climate conference. His story was overly rosy and he seemed to be completely unaware of any issues with intermittent, low density energy sources. If this is how he frames it, I fear for the rest.
Just a few of the many claims he made in his oral statement (my emphasis):
- a growing recognition the that strong climate action is good for business
- American businesses and cities are supportive of the Paris agreement
- it wasn’t just national government that is taking action in Paris, but CEO’s, bankers, mayors, governors, who is pushing hardest for the deal and announcing new climate efforts of their own
- 140 companies including Coca Cola and General Mills committed to serious ambitious emission targets aligned to climate science
- 63 companies including Wallmart, Google and Microsoft pledged to transition to 100% renewable power in the shorted practical time frame.
- the 6 biggest banks in the United States issued a statement in favor of a global agreement
- 450 cities joined the compact of mayors, a coalition of cities of leaders dedicated to reducing emissions, including 120 from the United States
- this flood of support is indicative of a new understanding of the relationship between climate change and the economy
- growing evidence from groups like the Global coalition on economy and climate is proving that strong climate action is compatible with and actually even necessary for economic growth
- this is why 365 companies including Adidas, Unilever, Gap and Staples wrote to US governors last year in strong support of the EPA carbon pollution standard for existing power plants. They wrote, quote, our support is firmly grounded in economic reality. Clean energy solutions are cost effective and innovating ways to driving investments. Increasingly, businesses rely on renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions to cut costs and improve corporate performance, unquote.
- the 365 companies who wrote this letter know the smart money increasingly lies in the sustainable economy
- the United States is a leader in the deliverance of improvements in energy efficiency, cleaner fuels and new technologies.
- we already seeing the benefits. Last year the US solar industry added workers at a rate of 12 times faster than the overall economy
- transitioning to a clean energy economy will create hundreds of thousand of more jobs, increased GDP and save families money on energy bills. But if unchecked, the negative economic impact of climate change will profoundly undermine the US economy
- our analyses show that the US is already well positioned to meet its international climate commitments, but it will require continued strong leadership
- and so on and so on…
This was only his oral statement, he gish galloped similar stuff in his answers afterwards. He also wasn’t afraid using words like “unprecedented”, “overwhelming”,…
Okay, that is all well and good, but the question that kept popping up in my mind was: why don’t they just DO that? As in: lead by example. If the advantages are so incredibly big, even crucial for economic growth and savings on families energy bill, then what keeps them from doing so?!??!
Now they are just keep on telling us that it is necessary, reliable, smart, economical, beneficial and all kind of superlatives, but why don’t they PROVE exactly that? Why are they even waiting for others to start doing what they believe is so beneficial? Why all the pledges? Just do it and show others that it can be done and how it has to be done. This would be the best proof that it can work. If others see how successful and easy it is, they ought to jump all over it…
I am not impressed by such statements. Let them first prove that renewable sources can carry an economy, that it can spawn sustainable jobs and is good for business, that energy prices driven by alternative energy can bring wealth to the people and companies!
This all reminded me of 75 Belgian company leaders that wrote an open letter to the federal government. That letter read as some pamphlet from WWF and had the same claims of more jobs and a stronger economy. In it also some really vague pledges. But I remember foremost that they were eager to be on the receiving end for support from our government…
Why was I thinking this is no different here?