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Top Industry Experts: “Green Energy is a Smart Investment”

Top Industry Experts: “Green Energy is a Smart Investment”

One of General Electric’s top executives called the belief that the economy and the environment are competing concerns “nonsense.” Marc Vachon, the vice president of GE’s Ecomagination program, made the statement while speaking at a clean energy investment conference earlier this month. According to this ThinkProgress article, GE has been heavily investing in “clean technologies” since the founding of Ecomagination in 2005, and revenues from green investments have actually been double that of other portfolios.

Vachon was also quoted as saying, Companies that don’t get this, really risk becoming irrelevant to the marketplace. Whether you believe it for climate change or just the markets that are developing, it is our responsibility as businesses to be responsible to the design signal that the world is telling us.”

I’ve heard this story before, and the only part that confuses me is that so many in the business world continue to ignore the facts telling them where the world is heading. I can’t help but think of the EV1, General Motors’ electric car from the 1990s, scrapped apparently under pressure from the oil industry. They were in on the ground floor of something, technology-wise and market-wise, and they threw it away. Now every company in the world is trying to create their own plug-in hybrid, and GM is lagging behind.

Still, at least the trend is catching on. The same article reports that in 2011, for the first time ever, renewable energy investments were greater than fossil fuel investments. It’s a few decades late, but at least we’re moving in the right direction.

This article at EurActiv makes a similar, but slightly different argument. These private investors seem at least as concerned about the huge costs of unchecked climate change as the huge profits in renewable energy investment. This might seem rather obvious to those reading this –  of course the overwhelming damage expected from climate change will be bad for the economy — but for major players in the business and finance worlds to acknowledge this is still an unusual, though welcome, development.

The individuals quoted in this article, at least, are well aware of the environmental state the world is in, and they’ve further concluded that they need to take a stand against climate change themselves, rather than relying on government. “It is clear that as long as Congress is effectively controlled by climate change deniers, all of us – investors, companies, workers and the broader public – must take action ourselves,” says Richard Trumka, president of the US-based AFL-CIO labor federation.

Ann Simpson, of CalPERS, a pension and health benefits giant agreed, saying “We as the major capital providers have got to work this out.” She even relishes the difficulty of the task. “I think it’s a turning point from petitioning politicians into thinking about this as an investment challenge. For me, that’s liberating.”

Part of the reason even intelligent businesspeople have been slow to get on board with investing in sustainable industries is that the existing fossil fuel giants and their government cronies have artificially made it more difficult to do so. In a recent Guardian article, the International Energy Agency’s chief economist, Fatih Birol, blamed huge fossil fuel subsidies for the difficulty in slowing emissions.

“Energy is significantly underpriced in many parts of the world, leading to wasteful consumption, price volatility and fuel smuggling. It’s also undermining the competitiveness of renewables,” said Birol. Accordingly, cutting government subsidies of fossil fuel could take us halfway to our global carbon in one fell swoop.

This raises a rather obvious question: why in the world are governments subsidizing the industries that are killing the world instead of the ones that might save it? Conscientious American eaters may not be surprised. It’s the same thing the US government does with the beef industry. And the reason is the same. One hand washes the other.

It’s perhaps fortunate that some private interests have decided not to wait for government to get the memo.

Related stories:

Who Are the Real Advocates For Oil?

Renewable Energy Cuts Unemployment In Half

Climate Change Deniers Set School Policy, Forecast Weather

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Photo credit: Ali Madjfar

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9:27AM PST on Mar 2, 2012

Green is good, green without thought for the land or wildlife around it seems to me like shear stupidity or a purposfull ploy to show how bad green can be. We have to go green with the planet and not money in mind. You guys and gals that posted about the dead birds by the score need to help get that out there get pics post them and show the disreguard for life. Because we here in the north had no idea birds were dying like that, those posts horrified me. We yet again need to take them by the hand and say bad dog no money comes second to life and planet.

6:37PM PST on Feb 18, 2012

I think the U.S. should go green too. Define "green". There's a photo of a smoggy city above this article. It's from vehicles and industry. Clean up the vehicles and make industry put in pollution controls. Put wind and solar right on the beaches in California. The pristine mountains and desert are not places to put such destructive technology...and for God's sake, cover the blades of those turbine! The designers must have been high on something or totally retarded to ignore that birds will die by the millions. It is animal cruelty to allow those blades to turn, chop off beaks, feet and wings before they fall to their deaths. The owners of the wind farms should be arrested and put in jail for 20 years.

And any of you who have not been near a 486 foot turbine, heard the screeching, thumping, and sound of being in an outdoor steel factory you have no clue what you're talking about. Come up to Tehachapi. Take the 14 freeway, get off at Silver Queen Road, go west, follow your map to get to Tehachapi/Willow Springs Road, north and weep at the total destruction.

The National Pacific Crest Trail is being criss crossed by turbines, supposed endangered birds like the 1.2 million dollar California Condors, Bald eagles, Golden eagles and migrating birds in this huge migration corridor are dying by the thousands. If the people really do care that wildlife is dying at least send hunters out to humanely shoot them. They're crack shots. It's better than me finding them dead along th

8:47AM PST on Feb 18, 2012

Apparently wind pwr is backed by the GOP, otherwise we'd not be developing it so much here in Rick Perry's Texas. i prefer SOLAR, but something that simple & obvious will never fly here until the GREEN PARTY gets a less precarious foothold.

3:07PM PST on Feb 3, 2012

I live in the Tehachapi Pass where thousand of the open bladed turbines are being installed. Please see for yourselves if you live in So Cal. Drive north on the 14 freeway (Antelope Valley). Get off at Silver Queen Road and go west. It will freak you out. Stay until dark and watch th hundreds up hundreds of red beacon that replace the night sky. I swear the designers must have high or retarded who came up with the concept of 500 foot turbines in pristine wild lands and never gave a single thought about putting grills over the blades. How many of you would want a structure within 500 feet of your property with blades spinning at 200 miles per hour? Here in the Tehachapi Mountains, Jawbone, Kelso Valley and Twin Oaks, we are beyond angry watching entire ecosystems destroyed, all in the name of money. It won't stop until the people are determined and fed up enough to throw the politicians out of office and change our constitution back to one of democracy, rather than tyrrany and plutocracy. What we're experiencing in the U.S. is the very reason the pilgrams fought the British for independence.

For an accurate story about climate change and who determined it:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/22/science/earth/22carbon.html
It's a story about Keeling (Keeling Curve) that Albert Gore described. He's mentioned on pages 2-3.

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