Saturday, May 14, 2011

Businesses Will Lead the Transition from Oil to Renewable Energy



In this video, Jonathan Koomey discusses the important role that business will play transitioning away from oil to renewable energy sources. While he sees a role for governments, he sees business and civil society as being crucial to this transition. He discusses the options available and concudes that there is a lot we can do. There will have to be big investments in new energy and new technologies. He concludes by saying, "if we are going to make this happen the transition will have to be led by business."

Koomey is co-author of "Winning the Oil Endgame" and author of many energy efficiency related books and articles. He led a group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) that developed energy efficiency recommendations for EPA & DOE.

His cutting-edge research for the International Project for Sustainable Energy Paths, Rocky Mountain Institute, and LBNL helped establish the feasibility and desirability of using renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions, decrease dependence on oil, and boost jobs in the US & Europe.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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2 comments:

Kim said...

Businesses, as any other, will play a role in this. But saying that it will be led by businesses is just another way of saying it will be led by profit.

How will that resolve the systemic and grave issues society is facing: erosion of trust, loss of jobs, corruption, middle-class implosion, information quasi-monopolies and control (best example is Iraq war through manufactured propaganda), "Me"-generation, society unrest through rising inequalities, democratic processes largely influenced by private interests...

And obviously a score of others: health - in the OECD countries, life expectancy may continue to rise slightly (but actually decreases in deprived areas of the US and elsewhere), but the healthy life expectancy has stagnated or gone down (!) in the last decade, for the first time, in several coutries, including parts of the US...
education - privatization of education leads to lower results, as recently shown in several states across the country...

So yes, business have and must play a role. But leading this transformation cannot be done by just one sector... It is a participative role in which whole communities must face together the issues, make the right choices, implement them and monitor them for their health and wealth.

Richard Matthews said...

Thanks for the comment Kim, you make some good points. However, in my view, many of the most pressing problems of the contemporary world can be addressed by transforming the old energy economy into a socially and environmentally conscious economy.

As I see it, business will lead the war on climate change due to the absence of government action. A Republican House in the US and a Conservative government in Canada means that we are unlikely to see climate change and energy legislation in the next couple of years. Meanwhile the business community is acting on important issues like emissions reductions. I further argue that the upside to political inaction is that the market will do a better job of identifying opportunities than governments.

However, I whole heartedly agree that business is only one element of what must be a truly collective effort.

We appear to disagree on the environmental value of profit. In my experience, profits are a valuable incentive for businesses to adopt more sustainable practices and develop greener goods and services.

Profits leverage the tremendous power of free markets. It was the business community that created the environmental crisis, it is only fitting that they should put their innovation to work for the environment.

Best,
Richard