Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Just a few more months…

Robert Kennedy, Jr. had a great piece in this year’s Vanity Fair Green Issue out this month. It’s a quick 2-page manifesto outlining the next president’s first task: rapid decarbonization.

He eloquently highlights an analogy that we use a lot in fight against climate change – the fight to abolish slavery (Hawken dives into this comparison as well in Blessed Unrest). The core issues are essentially the same – vested interests that would have to adapt argue that the morally correct route would devastate the economy. It didn’t then and it won’t now.

The article is available online here: http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/05/rfk_manifesto200805?currentPage=1.

He also outlines a few priorities for immediate action – doing a great job of succinctly describing the major policy shifts that would accelerate the shift, giving us a chance at avoiding the worst impacts of climate disruption, and developing a resilient economy. Cap and trade is the first, and all but an inevitability (we just need to ensure that it’s strong, clear, and effective). The second is a grid overhaul and a shift to DC transmission to allow the scaling up of clean energy. The Greenland team has been working on this issue, and will be taking that work to the next level, so you’ll most likely be seeing more on the subject here in coming months. And of course the big surge in efficiency: buildings that are net-positive in energy production, dramatic increases in vehicle mileage, better urban planning, etc. I’m just back from an interesting event with a group of university facilities managers to co-draft a resource for facilities professionals on their role in implementing the ACUPCC – this kind of dramatic efficiency increases will be key – beyond the add-on approaches to truly integrated design. The RMI Built Environment Team has a great new web resource with case studies of the projects on which they’ve fostered this approach.

Exciting stuff. There are signs the shift is starting to happen – we’ve just got to do our best to do it right, while doing it quickly. The Myanmar devastation offers another stark reminder as to why. Stay going.