27 Steps Towards a Green Future: National Clean Energy Summit Closes with a Laundry List of Recommendations
photo by Lisa Norwood
You could have blinked and missed it, and undoubtedly the bleary-eyed masses with lighter wallets certainly did, but the National Clean Energy Summit just took place over the past two days in Las Vegas. Among the speakers at the event, Bill Clinton outlined his 10 recommendations for building a clean energy future in the United States, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg did something similar for New York City. (Can you tell I’m a New Yorker, equating my fair city with the rest of the country?)
The conference as a whole produced a rather long laundry list (27 items!) of recommendations to both federal and state governments as to how best set the United States on the road away from fossil fuel dependency and a greener future. So here they are, grouped into broad categories:
Renewable Energy· Set a national renewable electricity standard for utilities to produce a significant portion of their electricity from wind, solar, and geothermal energy. This should be at least 20% by 2020. It would reduce consumers' energy costs, energy price volatility and greenhouse gas emissions.
· Modernize and expand the nation's electrical grid to make it smart and more secure, and capable of transferring or storing clean renewable energy in combination with electric vehicles, while providing greater access to such resources in an environmentally responsible way.
· Help fund the transition of states, like Nevada, or small countries around the world to be completely energy independent and carbon neutral to serve as an example of how these goals can be achieved.
· Provide incentives to states to decouple utility profits from electricity sales to encourage significant new investments in energy efficiency, and ensure net metering and time of use pricing/real time information is available.
· Expedite identification and reservation of Federal public lands that have high potential for the environmentally responsible production of renewable electricity, and improving permitting processes for clean energy production on such lands.
· Speed the transition from corn based ethanol to sustainable biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol made from wood chips, agriculture waste, and switch grass. This could include a joint US-Brazilian investment in sugar cane ethanol in the Caribbean, which would create jobs in this developing region.
· Convert solid waste landfills so that they produce waste heat, biofuels or fertilizer from methane emissions or organic materials.
· Establish programs to promote exports of domestically-made clean energy technology products. Assist China and India and other developing nations with their adoption of clean energy practices and technologies.
Energy Efficiency & Green Building · Establish, enforce and update building code standards for energy efficiency in new and retrofitted buildings to save consumers money and reduce fossil fuel use. Provide incentives for efficiency related renovations. Reduce building energy use by 50% by 2030.
· Encourage or direct utilities to organize the retrofitting of existing buildings.
· Reduce Federal government energy consumption by half within the next fifteen years, using procurement power to buy green products, buildings and services.
· Fully fund and expand LIHEAP, low income weatherization and Energy & Environmental Block Grant programs.
Transportation · Act swiftly to increase the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks, and increase funding for private-public partnerships to build a transportation sector that uses far less or no oil. · Buy, and give significant incentives to consumers and small businesses to buy, clean alternative fuel and plug-in hybrid vehicles. This should include natural gas fleet vehicles. · Initiate electrification of our entire transportation sector so it uses only clean domestic energy soon.
· Greatly increase investments in public transit to make it more affordable and accessible. Carbon Emissions· Put a price on carbon pollution, through a cap-and-trade program or other means.
· Fund research into carbon capture and storage technology that can dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal fired power plants. Green Jobs & Research· Fully fund and expand a green jobs/clean energy corps program to weatherize millions of homes, train workers for new energy technology application, build a smart grid, etc. · Create a Federal clean energy fund to invest in research, development and deployment of efficiency and renewable technologies. · Vastly increase the budget for clean energy research, development and deployment, including greater emphasis on commercializing research funded by taxpayers.
Tax Policy· Provide long-term tax incentives for renewable energy production and energy efficiency, including clean renewable energy bonds. Modify other tax policies to reward clean energy investments
At the State Level: · Require all new government buildings to be LEED certified; Convert state vehicle fleets to alternative fuels; Create incentives for renewable energy by lowering property taxes for these facilities, and exempting them from sales tax; Require that homeowner associations allow solar panels and other renewable technologies; Eliminate barriers and regulations that discourage energy efficiency and increase transparency of commercial building energy use for consumers.
We’ve Got Our Work Out Cut Out For UsThe single biggest thing that strikes me about this list—don’t worry it’s too long to break down and comment upon in one post—is that it reads like a summary of the perennial themes we write about here on TreeHugger.
Obviously it’s going to take a great deal of effort to translate this list into action, but it is really good that more and more influential public figures seem to be seeing the wisdom of what many of us in the environmental movement have been saying for a long time now.
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