State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

SESSION III: ECONOMIC RECOVERY – What Does a Green Recovery Look Like?

Credit: David Wentworth
Credit: David Wentworth

Update | 1:35p.m.

Good afternoon.  We are back and about to get started.  Jeffrey Sachs returns to the stage.  He introduces our first speaker of the afternoon, President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa of Mexico. Mexico will be hosting the next climate change conference in Cancun later this year. President Calderón will provide vision for this conference.

Update | 1:40p.m.

President says we need to act now on climate change. It will be hard to find common ground but every voice should be heard to reach a workable agreement with clear targets.

Wherever you work (media, NGOs) your work is important to reach solutions.

Developing countries are the most vulnerable places for floods and hurricanes. Mexico is already suffering from climate change. Every challenge is an opportunity. Humanity has an opportunity to find a new model of development in harmony with the environment.

He asks the audience to consider: How do we connect fighting poverty with fighting climate change?

Update | 1:43p.m.

He suggests that most important priority might be to find financial mechanism such as environmental programs that provide economics incentives to protect the environment.  If we change the way we consume and produce, we can reach this goal.

He explains Mexico’s green agenda. The country has set new targets on carbon emissions.

They are working a lot on action for reforestation programs in the country. They are paying the poorest people getting commitments to preserve rain forest where they live.  A core part of this program is an environmental service payment scheme.

These programs might be the most important alternatives to solve environmental problems.

Update | 1:50p.m.

He also argues that Mexico needs to use energy in a more efficient way.  Mexico has set goals for 2012.  60% of energy is coming from renewable energy. One aspect of this initiative will involve replacing home appliances for more environmental friendly products (ex: refrigerators)

Update | 1:55 p.m.

To move forward, Mexico will need technological and financial help.

He presents 7 principles the world needs to reach a climate change agreement.  Here are a few of those principles.

–Poor countries must act under responsibility according to their capacity. We must all contribute to the best of our ability

–Developed nations must assume leadership. World’s largest economy has developed using carbon intensive technologies. They have the money and science to provide better alternatives.  Doing nothing today will cost a lot more in the future, so we need to pay now.

–Developing nations need to adapt to climate change while lifting people out of poverty; however, they need help from developed countries.  he has been proposing a green fund to channel resources to developing countries that are ready to make climate change adaptation. We need to find a mechanism to lift people out of poverty while tackling climate change, deforestation, etc.

Update | 2:00 p.m.

Sachs takes the stage and engages the president in a series of questions.  Sachs begins by asking him about the green fund mentioned earlier.  President Calderón explains that we already have the most important part, the money.  Several developed countries have promised funds. Still there is no mechanism to transfer the money for the most pragmatic clear programs. We need clear message on which activities should be funded. He hopes to develop an agreement on the mechanisms by next November when COP 16 will take place in Mexico.

Update | 2:04 p.m.

Sachs offers his encouragement and support to the president and the green fund efforts.  He explains that the Earth Institute has been organizing a consortium of researchers that will be contributing as discussions of the mechanism and its impact goes forward.

Update | 2:07 p.m.

Now Riz Khan introduces the panel:

Sanjeev Chadha, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo India

Geoffrey Heal, Paul Garrett Professor of Public Policy and Business Responsibility and Professor of Economics and Finance, Columbia University

Bob McCooey, Senior Vice President of New Listings and Capital Markets, NASDAQ

Peter Wierenga, Executive Vice President and CEO, Philips Research

Initial questions for the panel

Update| 2:10 p.m.

Khan: India is growing tremendously and will be consuming a tremendous quantity of resources.  How is PepsiCo assuring green growth?

Wierenga: PepsiCo is in many ways a beverage/food company. We work with 20,000 thousand farmers.   We help them grow more in a sustainable ways.  We help farmers produce more with less.

Update | 2:13 p.m.

The conference turns its attention to London.  John Micklethwait, Editor-in-Chief of the The Economist, introduces the panel there:

  • Lord John Browne of Madingley, Managing Director and Managing Partner (Europe), Riverstone Holdings
  • Douglas L. Gilstrap, Senior Vice President and Head of Strategy, Ericsson
  • Michael Jacobs, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Climate Change and Environment, United Kingdom
  • Sir David King, Director, Smith School of Enterprise and Environment, University of Oxford

He asks: Should government focus on stimulus package on green recovery?

Michael Jacobs replies that low carbon tech is essential. In that past, it was rhetoric, now it is reality.  UK will spend a lot for energy in the future and the country is committed to low carbon energy system.  2 billion USD will go to low carbon tech and will generate huge growth for jobs in the United Kingdom.  The British see how green recovery is essential for growth in the economy.

Update | 2:22 p.m.

Sir David King adds that there’s an important movement beginning to take place. The research communities in our universities are taking up the challenge of low carbon research. There is an new opportunity for wealth creation with clean energy, but countries need the government to play a role.

Update | 2:25 p.m.

As conversations shift to vehicles, Michael Jacobs discusses the role and trajectory of vehicles.  People’s demand for large vehicles is and has been shifting.  If you ask hummer how well they are doing, the answer will be “not very well.”  Periods of high oil prices have had an impact on consumer preferences.

Update | 2:30 p.m.

Our moderator poses a provocative question asking: “Is it going to be governments or markets that drive change?”

King replies that testing and experimenting will be provided by private sector; however, government needs to provide the regulatory framework.  He urges that we need global pricing system, a cap and trade for carbon emissions.

Update | 2:34 p.m.

Back to NY:

Khan feels compelled to ask the same question to Bob McCooey of NASDAQ.  He explains that firms have been more risk-taking in investing in clean tech. He believes we need venture capital firms to invest in clean technology. There needs to be public-private partnerships to drive change.

Update | 2:37

Back in London

Sir David King says that he would like to see the world meet Calderón’s targets by introducing trade and cap scheme.  Developing countries should get money required to preserve environment and adaption.

Jacobs explains that in the UK and other European countries, a “green Keynesianism” will drive green investment. The next stage is to ensure all countries can set targets- poorer countries will need international support but poor countries should enter green Keynesian system as well.

Update | 2:42 p.m

Chadha reflecting on climate change proposes “If necessity is the mother of necessity, scarcity is the grandmother.”  There are many examples in developing countries where people make due with incredibly limited resources.

Update | 2:47 p.m

Wierenga explains that Phillips takes energy reduction seriously.  He provides a few examples where the company is taking a lead:

–Philips after the sun is the largest producer of light. As the company and the market are moving to LED lighting in combination with intelligent lighting.  This will have a major impact on reducing energy use.

–Phillip’s produces a reading light with a solar charger built in.  It can allow kids in poor country to study at night, while avoiding the use of fuels with pollution concerns.

He ends by staying that public opinion is changing and will change further.

Update | 2:56pm

Khan asks about future leapfrog technologies.

Chadha references GE’s portable cardio machines as well as drip irrigation that dramatically reduce the amount of water needed for crops.

In an exchange between Khan and Wierenga, Wierenga explains that it’s slowly becoming profitable to be a green company and that it becomes easier shareholders focus on long-term growth.

McCooey adds that the reality is that the execution of the subsidies will be opportunity to create new jobs and create new industry in line with the way we want to live today. In the midst of this financial crisis, our children are growing differently.  More and more they are recycling, turning off lights, thinking about what they eat. When you take private and public funding and combine it with mind shift, it will create a great demand for clean tech, a demand that companies will react to.

Update | 3:03 pm

Khan asks about what lessons we can learn from the economic slump.

Heal replies that US subsidies do exist for clean tech, but a pricing mechanism for carbon (cap and trade) is still limiting the impact.

Update | 3:08 pm

Khan is now taking questions from the NYC audience.

Update | 3:15 pm

A question from the audience: “How do we change people’s idea about green recovery. What is the role of the media of getting the right info to people? What do we do we with people that have the right solutions, but we are not hearing them because they are rural, women, elders? How do we get their messages across?

And responses:

Khan: Sadly the media is very tabloid based. A lot of good issues get missed. Public demand should play a role. He then asks the panel: How can we give people who don’t have a voice a voice?

Chadha:  There is no silver bullet. Media plays important role but often they are more interested in sensational news than sustainable development. At PepsiCo, we are trying to get the word out through our foundation

McCooey: A good approach is through finding a way to market. Venture capitalist, located in India and China, are finding great ideas and bringing them to the market.

Update | 3:30 pm

Break until 3:55 pm

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14 years ago

Thank You for this is a great discussion. My question is; what can individuals do who are interested in restoring our planet to its naturally healthy state? I think, that in general too much is left up to the governments of the world and the NGOs to address and solve these global problems. We ignore that the problem is the result of the actions of billions of people who contribute is some rather small ways.