The end of any year casts a shadow of reflection on accomplishments and importantly, on what could have been done in the last 12 months. However, this year, 2007, saw progress in addressing our generation's most pressing challenges — how to slow and ultimately stop the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, enhance energy efficiency and improve our nation's energy security. It was a productive year and one that will hopefully be followed by a year filled with even more accomplishments.
What a year it was. People across the country began to see energy and the environment through a different lens, thanks in part to attention surrounding the following milestones:
- Former Vice President Gore being honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for work in climate change and his series of Live Earth concerts.
- The United Nations' conference on climate change in Bali that began to develop a plan of action to follow the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.
- The U.S. Supreme Court's decision that the U.S. EPA could regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act.
- The passage and signing by Congress and President Bush of the "Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007."
These are just a few examples of how 2007 helped lay the groundwork in addressing our foremost pressing environmental challenges. But as with any year, more could have been accomplished.
As the sentiment of disappointment arises over Congress' missed opportunities with the recent energy bill ( "The Senate's Soft Energy Bill,"Los Angeles Times,"Disappointments on Climate,"The New York Times), Business Roundtable also believesmore progress should be made. For example, focus needs to be given to areas such as expanding domestic energy production, which we believe will play a critical role in meeting growing demand for decades to come and in enhancing U.S. energy security.
But instead of dwelling on the negative, we look towards the hopeful future that is ahead. At Business Roundtable, we are very proud of our accomplishments from the past year and would like to highlight a select few:
- In June we released our energy blueprint, "More Diverse, More Domestic, More Efficient: A Vision for America's Energy Future,"which outlined a series of balanced and integrated steps to achieve long-term progress in addressing today's energy challenges and enhancing America's energy security. We have aggressively advocated these recommendations with policy makers, and will continue to push for a comprehensive energy policy.
- Soon after in July, for the first time, 160 CEOs reached a consensus on proactive, practical recommendations to help sustain the U.S. economy and society while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Business Roundtable's climate change policy statement proposed a series of benchmarks and principles against which climate change policy proposals should be measured. We are hopeful this will provide guidance to pending pieces of climate change legislation to ensure the final bills are robust and will make a positive impact toward the reduction of GHGs.
- Our primary initiatives, Climate RESOLVE and S.E.E. Change,dedicated toward reducing GHGs and encouraging sustainable business practices, continued to be a success as members shared best practices and tactics during our annual workshops and learning sessions. The initiatives remain a strong example of how member our companies are proactive players in making substantial changes.
Finally, the relationship we formed in this venue, with Treehugger, is something we are particularly proud of. At Business Roundtable, we understand action and change will come from a collective understanding of what needs to be accomplished among individuals, the business community and our policy makers. Acknowledging change cannot occur unless the implications for inaction are understood, unless current efforts underway are promoted and unless more is done — providing the voice and perspective of "the industry" is a key ingredient to this mix, and one we're proud to voice.
Yes, we are really only beginning the journey down the path towards sustainability, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing our overall environmental footprint. However, at Business Roundtable, we believe that our members and the business community are critical components of addressing these challenges. We are optimistic about the opportunities — and change — that will come in the New Year