Stakeholders Take Climate Action
Kenneth Colburn: Many of you in the room know Stephen Heintz, the president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund [RBF]. You know that he’s tall, handsome and articulate, so you know that I’m not him. I’m Ken Colburn from the Center for Climate Strategies, and I’m pleased to be here in his stead. Stephen has been working on another effort, this one with Bill Clinton, concerning Kosovo.
Stephen and the president had a conflicting meeting on the East Coast, and for Bill Clinton to be with us tomorrow, Stephen had to cover that meeting. So, having worked so hard to get climate change on this plenary venue, Stephen unfortunately can’t be with us. The good news is we get Bill Clinton; the bad news is we lose Stephen Heintz. But I’m very pleased to be with you to stand in his shoes, however inadequately.
You all know that the breadth and the scale of climate change makes it the “mother of all concerns”—certainly all environmental, and certainly all quality-of-life concerns.
Basically, there is nothing that you care about that climate change can’t, and indeed won’t, make worse. And, unfortunately, climate change is becoming less and less of a generational challenge. I’ve always marveled that we could look back sixteen generations and say things like, “My ancestors came over on the Mayflower.” But we couldn’t look three or four generations ahead to see what was going to happen in terms of our climate. Well, we’re “solving” that problem; now it’s only one or two generations ahead.
Jim Hansen [Dr. James E. Hansen, head of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, expert on climate change] tells us we have ten years, and we maintain a fantasy that that’s a rolling ten years. In fact, he said that over two and a half years ago, so we’ve already used about 30 percent of that window. Tragically, the United States has shirked its global, and indeed moral, responsibility to address this threat; but thankfully this federal policy void is being filled at the state and city levels by institutions, by businesses, by organizations and by individuals—basically unusual alliances—who are advocating for real action.
And we’re at a critical moment. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that we’re already seeing changes in our world and that those changes will impact the poor disproportionately—as they said on Marketplace [a public radio program] the other day: climate change is the greatest market failure of all time, where the beneficiaries don’t pay the costs, and the costs are borne by those who weren’t the beneficiaries. China will soon surpass our greenhouse gas emissions; and without U.S. leadership on climate change, there’s almost no hope that they’ll pursue a different path or develop any more sustainably than we have.
People are waking up to the threat of global climate change.
We have the Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth, and the U.S. Climate Action Partnership; there’s the TXU deal [in which the buyers of TXU corp. committed to increase energy efficiency and decrease emissions]; there’s the Supreme Court decision [Massachusetts et al vs. Environmental Protection Agency affirming that EPA can regulate carbon dioxide emissions]—so climate change is now clearly in the public consciousness. And, at long last, Washington is starting to take climate change seriously. We need to make sure that when something does arrive on the president’s desk, it’s up to the task. So now is a perfect time for this group of global philanthropists to engage on climate change and indeed engage even more forcefully on this issue.
Stephen Heintz isn’t here, but under his leadership Rockefeller Brothers Fund has navigated the climate issue through a triangulation of three key elements that will come through clearly in our panel. The first is urgency, which I’ve already spoken of.
The second is the fact that solutions are here today. This isn’t tomorrow; it isn’t rocket science. More invention and innovation is evident every day; and one of the major impediments to actions—the myth of economic harm—is increasingly being discredited. As Michael Northrop [program director, Sustainable Development], also of RBF, says, “Nobody has actually lost money undertaking climate action.” Our panel will demonstrate that climate action in fact poses far less economic risk than climate inaction, as the Stern report [The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review (Stern, 2007)] indicated. When it comes to climate change, we’re already seeing winners go to market—and losers go to Washington.
The third element is that a broad array of unusual alliances is rapidly coalescing on climate, as you know and as you can see from our panel. It’s not just the usual suspects anymore, but a wide-ranging array of constituencies that encompasses students, evangelicals, farmers, investors, energy entrepreneurs, hunters and fishermen (the “hook and bullet” crowd), builders, governors, executives—even leaders of our military forces now understand this threat.
So I’m very pleased to introduce this panel, which together reflects the variety of Americans who are now pushing for a political tipping point on climate change before we see a physical tipping point in our climate.
Over the past two years, farmers have come to understand that they have a big role to play in America’s energy future, not just in its food supply. Led by highly respected and well-connected agricultural leaders, an ambitious initiative is building in Washington that will enhance energy efficiency, strengthen national security, revitalize rural economies and protect the environment. Called 25x’25 because of its aim to source 25 percent of America’s energy needs through renewable agricultural sources by 2025, its project coordinator, Ernie Shea, is with us today.
The world’s best-managed businesses have leaders who understand both the risk of climate change and the opportunity it presents. A number of these leaders have stepped outside their boardrooms and expressed their concern and publicized their actions. Much of this action has already happened due to the tremendous leadership of early movers like DuPont, which recognized more than fifteen years ago the threat and the opportunity posed by climate change, and that acting on it could be good for the bottom line. Now dozens of Fortune 500 companies are following suit. Tom Jacob is here to tell us DuPont’s story.
Today’s youth represent the first generation that will suffer serious direct climate impacts, that will raise their children in a markedly different future world. As a group they’ll be the most directly affected, and they can be expected to care the most passionately. The Energy Action Coalition, which organizes its work among youth through the Campus Climate Challenge, is focused on mobilizing eighteen- to thirty-five-year-olds to build a generation-wide movement to halt global warming. We thank Billy Parish for joining us from the Energy Action Coalition.
And evangelicals have been perhaps the most visible new constituency on climate change. Many of you have seen the evangelical climate change statement and call to action that was released a few months ago; it is arguably the most powerful sign today of the impact of new voices calling for federal action on climate change. It was not without its critics, as you no doubt also know. Richard Cizik is here from the National Association of Evangelicals to talk to about the challenges and the opportunities in engaging this critical community.
And then, finally, I’ll bookend the panel and close myself, discussing climate action at the state level, from the perspective of the Center for Climate Strategies, where we engineer politically safe and analytically sound ways for governors to “come out” on climate change. I should note that there are a growing number of cities also taking action. Through the ICLEI program—the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives—more than 250 cities have committed to and are taking action to reduce their emissions. So with that, I appreciate our panel joining us today. We will present in the order I just read, so leading off please welcome Ernie Shea.
Ernest Shea: Thank you very much, Ken, for that kind introduction—and good morning everyone. I want to thank Stephen Heintz for the opportunity to participate in this panel. I think it really does speak volumes to the fact that although we may be a diverse group, we’re all heading toward the same general goal. My job this morning is to visit with you briefly about somewhat of an unusual alliance that is growing out of the agricultural and forestry sectors.
About three years ago, at the invitation of Tim Wirth at the United Nations Foundation, we brought together a group of agricultural leaders and began to think through how big of a role the agricultural sector could play in a new energy economy, in a new energy future that was emerging. And that essentially is the origin of the 25x’25 project. We began, through the support of the UN Foundation and the Energy Future Coalition, with a group of about fifteen leaders; and our objective really was to think through and explore this new energy future, particularly focusing around the economic, environmental and national security outcomes and benefits that a new energy future could provide.
And we did so, very deliberately, through the lens of production agriculture.
This was certainly not the first time that a group of leaders came together to talk about what role agriculture and forestry can play in helping create a new energy future, but what was unique—and I think this goes back to some of Tim Wirth’s insight and brilliance in terms of bringing coalitions together—is that he stepped back and said, “Let’s listen to what agricultural leaders themselves think.” Previous to that, there have been any number of initiatives where leaders who perhaps were interested in agriculture but not part of agriculture came together to explore this new energy future question, but they ended up coming from a different place; they didn’t have the same experience base that core production agriculture leaders had. This was a fresh start to take a fresh look.
We ended up, in our early stages of discussion, spending about six months asking some very basic questions of this leadership team. We asked them to take a look at what’s happening today and to try to get their arms around what they see. We also asked them to look into the future and to reach out?perhaps as much as seventeen or eighteen years?to the time period 2025 and take a look at what it might look like at that point in time in terms of energy production systems. We then asked them to explore what role they can play, how big might it be and what would have to happen to get them to that point.
The group quickly concluded, as most other constituencies have, that we aren’t in a very good place right now, that the current fossil-based energy systems that we’ve grown to depend on are not sustainable. Costs are rising, supplies are limited, supplies are located in very volatile parts of the world, costs are escalating, and, this leadership team also observed, we are experiencing serious and significant environmental challenges resulting from the emissions of burning fossil fuels. So it created a backdrop for them to say that we don’t like where we are today, and it provided a bridge to talk about where they thought they could fit in.
What came out of this amazed me as their facilitator because this leadership team, in small-group discussions and then in subsequent follow-up meetings with any number of folks around the country that represent the heart and soul of production agriculture and forestry, came back and said, “We’re part of this future. This isn’t a challenge; this is an enormous opportunity.” And they described it as one of historic proportions that they thought they could participate in and capitalize on.
As a result of their dialogue, they constructed a vision of the future, and their vision has now become known as the 25x’25 vision. Simply stated, they believe that by the year 2025, America’s farms, ranches and forests will be producing 25 percent of the total energy that’s consumed in the United States, and they will be doing that while producing food, feed and fiber. Our leaders were very deliberate in constructing this vision statement. It was not taken lightly. They firmly believe that they have the capacity, thanks to advances in technology, thanks to changing economics, to not just be defined as a sector that produces food and fiber but increasingly, going forward, the sector that’s known as the four Fs: food, feed, fuel and fiber.
This vision came to light in early 2005. It was then further tested with any number of organizations in the agricultural community, and we continue to have this dialogue around a new energy future and the benefits that could flow out of it and how agriculture and forestry could fit in. Obviously, it’s mostly about renewable energy, but it is also about climate change. Today we have grown and evolved to the point where there are more than four hundred organizations participating and endorsing. We have eighteen state alliances. The vision has been picked up on and endorsed by over a hundred members of Congress, by twenty-three governors and by six state legislatures—and it’s continuing to grow and build.
I think what makes us unique, though—and this gets back to the focus of the talk this morning—is the fact that we are somewhat of an unusual alliance. We are a diverse alliance made up of any number of sectors and organizations. Groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation, ranging all the way over to NRDC [the Natural Resources Defense Council], to Worldwatch, to the big-three auto manufacturers, to the organizations that represent labor, religious, and business sectors and communities. These organizations have come together and are actually making the vision come to life.
We’re now working to go to the next level, to strengthen our presence at the state level. Thanks to the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, we now have a presence in eighteen states, and we’re looking to expand that to at least another dozen by the end of this year. We have proceeded forward and developed an action plan that will actually carry this forward and bring this vision to life. But this is the harder part—of agreeing not just on a vision but on an action plan to get there.
Let me wrap up and close with just a couple of observations, what I think represent the keys to success of new partnerships, of unusual alliances. There are five quick points I would mention that I think represent why 25x’25 has proceeded to where we are today. And they are guiding principles.
We begin with relationships first. We work with people. We establish trust relationships that allow for productive dialogue to occur. That’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s a critical first step to go forward.
We then begin a dialogue around what’s in it for you. Not what’s in it for me, but what might you, in your community, the constituencies, get out of a new energy future. We probe it from this standpoint because that’s what motivates people to get involved: it’s not what I want, it’s what you want.
The third key point we work toward is creating ownership so that the 25x’25 vision is not “our” initiative, it’s a collective “our” initiative. It’s grounded in the guiding principle that what you’re in on you’re not down on, so we work very hard to create ownership.
Fourth, we work first and foremost on creating consensus around the goal, the destination. We call that the what. We then move to the How do we get there? But if you don’t have a clear sense of destination, such as the 25x’25 goal, you’re drifting and you don’t really know where you’re heading. For us 25x’25 is the common goal that defines a new energy future for the nation and it defines what unites us. Every time we get stuck, we go back and refer to what unites us—that goal.
Fifth—and this is perhaps the most difficult part—is when you get into the tough dialogue, we approach it from standpoint of the “yes if” principle, not the “no because.” When we brought this very diverse group of stakeholders together, everybody had different ideas. We asked them to be respectful of each other and to begin with the assumption that Yes, I can agree with you but to follow it with if these things happen. That is fundamentally different from what usually takes place, where you begin defending your position and approach it from the standpoint of No, I don’t buy into that, because…
I believe those five guiding principles form the foundation of this 25x’25 alliance that we’re working to continue to grow. We would look forward to working with any of you to continue to build this movement so that together we can create a healthy, clean new energy future for the nation. Thank you.
Kenneth Colburn: Thank you, Ernie. The “Yes, if” principle is good advice for all of us, isn’t it? Tom Jacob from DuPont.
Thomas Jacob: Thanks, Ken, and thank you to the Global Philanthropy Forum for including us. What I’d like to do is describe for you the journey that DuPont has been on, and I’d like you to consider that journey in the context of the journey that the larger social community that we’re a part of is currently on as well. Let me begin with climate change, the topic of this conference.
The science around climate change evolved out of the science around ozone depletion. As the number one producer of chlorofluorocarbons on the globe, we were deeply involved with that; as a result, our science was deeply involved in understanding that problem, coming to terms with it and delivering a solution. But as the attention of the global scientific community shifted from ozone depletion to larger concerns around the impacts of manmade chemicals on the atmosphere, our science was right there. Our scientists were there, and they delivered the message back to management in 1991 that the science was becoming very strong, and they argued very strongly for prudent action. We began reducing our greenhouse gas emissions at that time.
Since then we’ve reduced our emissions from our global operations by more than 72 percent. That’s a very large figure. We had a unique mix of both energy-intensive industries and a number of chemical processes that delivered amounts of greenhouse gases that were not CO2, not energy based; but we set about systematically reducing those and accomplished some very significant results. Along the way we also reduced our energy consumption to the point where we saved ourselves about $3 billion. This is not inconsequential activity.
That early action positioned us to be very much a part of the global dialogue that evolved during the 1990s, and it’s positioned us to be part of some unusual alliances as the United States has awakened to this problem more recently.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, of which DuPont was a founding member, urged Congress to take action to bring greenhouse gases under mandatory control in the United States. That partnership between DuPont and a number of other major corporations? Environmental Defense, the World Resources Institute, the NRDC is an example of the constructive engagement that is increasingly characterizing the industry.
We’ve also been involved in the Ceres Network. We believe that government will occupy space here; it will have to. We think as part of the agenda there has to be credit for early action, so we encourage more and more in the community to take action in advance of those regulatory environments. We think that the use of market mechanisms to minimize economic drag and to maximize efficiency across not only our economy but the global economies, is going to be important to that long-term solution.
But the attention to climate by our company is just one manifestation of a larger change. Today, DuPont describes itself as applying science to deliver sustainable solutions. We are a very different company today than we were twenty years ago. That difference really began about the time that we committed to greenhouse gas reductions in the early 1990s. The greenhouse gas targets we put before ourselves were one of a number of environmental targets that we set before the company globally. At that time we were oriented largely to reducing our footprint on the environment. We’ve accomplished a lot by setting those goals, measuring our progress and systematically chipping away at them. We had always been a leader in health and safety in the workplace. We’ve reduced our major incidents at our chemical manufacturing operations by more than 90 percent. We’ve reduced air toxics, we’ve reduced air carcinogens, hazardous waste, TRI [Toxics Release Inventory] releases and of course our greenhouse gas reductions.
But the important point is that while all that was going on, our company was transforming itself in a much more fundamental way. Our business portfolio was transformed radically. It’s the third transformation in our company’s two hundred years of existence. We started out as an explosives company—black powder. We applied science to the development of that industry. That evolved into a focus on chemistry, which carried us through the last century, and for which many people in this audience probably recognize DuPont. But in the past fifteen years, we’ve become much more of a biology company, a company focusing its science and expertise and innovation in the realm at the interface of biology and chemistry, and our business portfolio reflects that. Science and technology innovation are at the center of all of our businesses. We are deeply involved in the agricultural enterprises that Ernie was alluding to. We own Pioneer Hybrid, one of the largest and most forward-thinking seed-producing companies on the globe.
We’re also deeply involved in areas of industrial biotechnology—biofuels—substituting renewable factors of the enterprise for petroleum-based factors of production. We have a leadership position in the development of cellulosic conversion. Biobutanol is a fuel that we think will greatly enhance biofuels and their place in this new environment. Where are we taking this? We’re continuing to reduce our footprint in greenhouse gases, water conservation, fuel efficiency of our on-road fleet and air carcinogens.Importantly, we are also driving our businesses to be part of the solution down their value chains.
We set 2015 goals last year for our company, and they include environmentally smart market opportunities for our research and development (R&D). We have a $1.3 billion R&D budget, and we’ve committed to double the investment in R&D that will directly, quantifiably impact environmental performance for our customers and their value chains. We’ve committed to grow revenue by $2 billion from products that reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gases. We’ve committed to double the revenue we receive from non-depletable resources to more than $8 billion. We believe that the global community is on an evolutionary path toward a more sustainable future, broadly, not just in climate change. And we see an enormous business opportunity in harnessing our science and innovation to help enable that transformation.
To the point of this conference and the investments of your enterprises, we believe that orienting those investments to more consistently deliver more-sustainable solutions, not just in climate change but more broadly, will also enable that evolutionary transformation. It will help create an environment in which science and technology can truly be liberated to take on and make a meaningful difference in challenges such as climate change. Thank you very much.
Kenneth Colburn: Thank you, Tom. Please welcome Billy Parrish from the Energy Action Coalition.
Billy Parish: Good Morning, everyone. It’s an honor to be here with all of you, and I want to thank Stephen Heintz for inviting me to be on this panel to bring the youth voice to this critical issue for our future. I’m here as the coordinator of and representing the Energy Action Coalition. Because I couldn’t actually bring our coalition here with me, I wanted to show a picture of our coalition in the most recent Vanity Fair. Behind each of these faces are a few things. One is a very excited family that has cleaned out their local neighborhood newsstand of all of the Vanity Fairs and is telling everyone they know about their kid being in Vanity Fair, mine included. But there’s also a story of a young person who against all odds has chosen to make climate their life’s work and has chosen to give themselves to this work. And behind all of these individual stories is a larger story of a generation that is beginning to discover its great work—and this generation is quite literally the future. Each of these people also represents one of the twenty-four organizations that have come together to work on the Campus Climate Challenge.
Three years ago these organizations came together to create a more unified youth climate movement, and, as Ernie’s coalition, it’s a very diverse coalition of groups all across the United States and Canada that are working with young people. And we’ve come together, recognizing the scale of the problem that we face and realizing that we need to work together and collaborate to build the kind of movement to the scale that we need to solve this problem.
Stephen gave some quick advice for this panel. He said to focus on three messages that I wanted to convey.
The first is that schools should be a critical part of this transformation that we want to see, and schools are beginning to change very rapidly. Some of the reasons why schools are important are obvious, but I’m going to go into them quickly. For one thing, they are a training ground for all of the future leaders in our country and around the world, across every discipline in every area.
Colleges alone have more than 18 million young people that they’re training, and K–12 schools have many times that number. Schools are also centers of innovation in our society, in technology, policy and behavior; and they’re important economic actors. They are models for cities and for the communities that they’re in; and the $330 billion in endowments that they have and their annual operating expenses are significant. They’re also vulnerable institutions in the sense that good student organizing can change them. As any good campus organizer knows, if you run a good campaign at a school, you really can transform that institution. A key part of making our broader society a sustainable society will be looking at what institutions we can change to get there; and schools are one of the institutions that can most easily be moved in that direction.
Some things have already happened in this movement so far. Just this school year, hundreds of schools passed climate and sustainability policies, hired sustainability coordinators and designed new courses in climate. Two years ago the most aggressive climate policy yet was passed by Cornell University, which was a 7 percent reduction below 1990 levels in its greenhouse gas emissions. And just this year, 150 college presidents committed to making their schools climate-neutral, that is, having no net carbon emissions. This is a major change; it includes the whole University of California system, many of the largest state institutions around the country and the L.A. Community College District.
Our coalition has created a campaign called the Campus Climate Challenge to coordinate and support this student organizing. Already 554 student groups around the country have joined this campaign, and we have more than sixty full-time staff supporting students who are doing this work, transforming their schools into models of sustainability.
The second point I wanted to make is that I believe this country is ready for a mass movement on global warming. We need to pass policies that will make emissions peak and decline over the next ten years and be reduced by 80 percent by 2050, as we heard on the panel yesterday. But our politicians aren’t there yet.
One of my favorite quotes is by David Brower, one of the founders of the modern environmental movement. He said, “Politicians are like weathervanes, and our job is to make the wind blow.” For the past twenty years, I think we’ve done a very good job prepping the policy and the science and technology—the legal pieces of this movement. In the past couple of years, we’ve seen a number of new constituencies get involved, but what the movement hasn’t had is the movement piece. The largest climate rally in this country so far is a thousand people. What does a mass movement on climate look like? What are the tactics that it will use? These are important questions that I hope many of us in this room will begin to engage in.
I think this movement will look different from past social movements, but there are a couple of things that are going to be key. One is investing in infrastructure for building this movement. I think that college campuses are an incredibly important part of that infrastructure; but we should also be looking at what other organizations and institutions can be engines of this transformation. We should look at cities, churches and community groups and invest in the organizations that are working with those institutions.
A second key piece will be engaging citizens in meaningful action. We need to do more than ask people to write a check to our organizations or write an e-mail to their member of Congress; we need to ask them to actually do something, to be involved in meaningful action. We need a citizens’ movement. One of the most meaningful examples of this beginning to happen is the effort called Step It Up, launched on April 14, 2007. At iconic places all around the country that are threatened by global warming—places like the coral reefs off the coast of Florida or Glacier National Park—people are coming together and calling on Congress to reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050. There are more than fifteen hundred actions and events all around the country, so it’s really a call that people have accepted.
The third piece is to encourage leadership from young people in the communities that are already being affected. Movements are driven by the people who have the most at stake, and people of color and low-income communities are disproportionately affected by this issue. We need to bring these communities and constituencies to the table when we’re making decisions about the future, and we need to equip them with the resources to defend themselves and to build the kind of future that they want to build.
The last point I want to make is that we need to invest now in people. We heard yesterday about the need to invest 1 percent of the gross domestic product [GDP] now to put off a potential 20 percent GDP loss in the future; that came out of the Stern report. As a society, we are leaving our children with a huge economic debt: a nationwide average of $20,000 in college loans upon graduation, an insecure job market for our young people, ballooning national debt and crashing entitlement programs. But even more significant, we are on the verge of leaving our young people with an ecological debt that may be devastating and irreversible. We can stop that, but we need an immediate investment now in clean technologies.
We need to put a price on carbon; but even more important we need to invest in people and put them to work.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done. There are 30 million low-income homes that need to be weatherized or retrofitted. We have crumbling schools that need to be rebuilt in a sustainable way. We have an inefficient and vulnerable transmission grid system.
Previous generations have been called to service in times of national crisis: to the military service in times of war, to public works service like the Civilian Conservation Corps in times of economic depression and to the Peace Corps in times of threatening international tension. It’s time to call this generation to service to meet the great crisis of our time: the climate crisis. I think young people in particular will heed this call.
In 2005 more than 70 percent of college freshmen reported having volunteered weekly during their senior year, and college graduates are flocking in unprecedented numbers to public service jobs.
If these service-inclined young people were given the chance to be front and center in a serious effort to stop global warming, they would jump at it. They are, in fact, the greenest generation. And at the same time, a number of people from the baby-boom generation can get involved in this work and build a more sustainable world for their children. So I say let’s call this country to service; let’s give them the tools they need to make a difference; let’s begin to heal this intergenerational divide and build a more sustainable world together. Thanks.
Kenneth Colburn: Thank you, Billy. What Billy didn’t tell you is that this movement is overwhelmingly being done digitally. We can all take a lesson from Billy?and indeed no doubt will?in the near future about this technique. Now please welcome Richard Cizik.
Richard Cizik: Good morning, everybody. It’s a delight to be here. I would like to say a few very brief things and I’ll keep under my time limit.
Let me begin with a story. Let’s say it’s an American (I institute the word evangelical when I tell this in churches). It goes like this: A man is in his Jeep Cherokee going over hill and dale. In the midst of nowhere, he slams on his brakes, gets out of his Jeep Cherokee, and walks over to the man standing there tending his sheep, a shepherd; and to the shepherd, he says, “If I can tell you how many sheep you have, can I have one?” And the shepherd is totally dumbstruck; he doesn’t know what to say. He says, “Of course!” And so the American, the evangelical, whomever, walks back, gets into his Jeep Cherokee, gets on his GPS (in our community we call that God’s positioning satellite), and within a moment he has a ream of papers; he walks over to the shepherd and he says, “It’s very simple, sir, you have 1,638 sheep.”
And the shepherd is just struck dumb; he says, “That’s amazing! How did you know? Go pick one out.” So the American goes over, picks one out, and he gets back to leave; then there’s a knock on his window, and the shepherd has walked up and he says to him, “Sir,” he says, “if I can tell you what you do for a living, can I have my sheep back?” And the American says, “Wow, I guess so, one good turn deserves another.” And the shepherd says, “You’re a consultant.” And the man says, “Wow! How did you know?” The shepherd says, “Well, you came into my world out of nowhere, you answered questions that I’ve not asked and charged me a lot of money for it.” And then he says, “By the way,” he says, “you don’t know diddly-squat. You took my sheepdog.” Every good conference deserves one good story.
I am a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. for the National Association of Evangelicals [NAE]: sixty-four years old, forty-five thousand churches, 30 million members of a community that is 100 million. Twenty-five percent of all adult Americans are evangelicals, according to the recent surveys. And they have a conundrum unlike other Americans. This problem is reflected in this issue of climate change. If you look at the opinion polls, only 37 percent of evangelicals believe that climate change is human-induced. If you compare that with the GOP Congress, exactly 37 percent of the members of Congress who are Republican believe it is human-induced. That is a reflection of why climate change is one consequence of the age-old religion and science debate.
And yet things are changing. I would like to suggest to you my strategy, and that of the NAE, along with, interestingly enough, Edward O. Wilson who has a Ph.D. from Harvard and two Pulitzer prizes, along with many other awards. We have come together on behalf of religion and science, the two basic paradigms in this country, to do something about this issue.
Wilson has written a new book called The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth. In the book, and I would recommend it to you, he says do three things. First, have a vision, and cast that vision. That’s what we’ve been doing about this issue. We call it, by reframing this issue, “creation care.”
It’s a biblical stewardship responsibility that these 100 million people have, and you have to make the connection to climate change. Since 2004, we’ve moved the percentages of evangelicals in this country who believe that this is real and will impact them and their kids from less than 50 percent to over 80 percent in just three short years. And that is part of casting that vision.
We have done this through cognitive liberation: you have to persuade people that they can do something about a problem. Cognitive liberation is turning a switch in their heads from, “Climate change is going to happen and we can’t do anything about it” to, “Absolutely, we can change this reality.” And I believe we can and will. The Congress of the United States is a reflection of the change that’s occurring, even among Republicans. Just yesterday there was to be a debate between John Kerry and Newt Gingrich, and it turned out to be a love fest.
Number two: strategy to solve problems. Eighty-six leaders came forward with the Evangelical Climate Initiative, and it prompted a backlash. But I say this is the civil rights issue of today. The evangelical leaders in the forties, fifties and sixties sat on their hands. My generation and I’m sure yours, Billy, we will not sit on our hands and allow this to happen to the world, because it’s everybody’s issue.
So you have to have a strategy to solve problems. It is, for us, what Robert Putnam called “bridging outward.” And so in ten years we’ve passed eight major landmark bills: the Trafficking Victims Protection Act; the IRFA—the International Religious Freedom Act; the Sudan Peace Act; the End Demand for Sex Trafficking Act; the North Korea Human Rights Act; the Prison Rape Elimination Act; PEPFAR—the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. These are all collaborative efforts where we have bridged outward as a community to solve a problem.
That’s two: solve problems. So we must: cast the vision, solve problems and, last, the tactics. Our tactics are leader-to-leader. We worked to get a hundred leaders who would cast the vision and adopt a strategy of collaboration. This is not the old paradigm of zero sum gain where somebody else has to lose for us to win. This is a new common-good strategy that says we’re all in it for the betterment of everybody. The other speakers have intuitively said the same thing. We’re all in this together. I heard the same message from Governor [Arnold] Schwarzenegger yesterday at Georgetown University. And these tactics are working?going from leader to leader down to the very individual members of our society, one after another.
Finally, and I believe this is part of the biggest change that will encompass the twenty-first century. We can change the 37 percent who believe that climate change is human-induced, into 100 percent, but there is something else that is going on that will affect change more than politics: it is the reshaping of religion and science today. When you have theologians and scientists coming together, these two worlds working together will change this reality.
One last story: A boy and girl come to the old man in the town square. They’re fed up with his leadership. They want it to end, and they devise the following strategy. They say, “We’ll go to him with this bird in hand and we’ll say, “Tell us, old man, is the bird alive or dead?” And they have a strategy. If the old man says that the bird is dead, they’ll reveal that the bird is very much alive; but if he says that the bird is alive, they’ll pinch the bird’s neck and kill it. Thinking they had it all down pat, they go into the square and they ask the question, “Is the bird alive or dead?” The old man replied, “My sons and daughters, the answer is in your hands.”
And I happen to believe that the people in this room have moved the needle this far already and we will move it the rest of the way because of the larger paradigms that are already changing America and the world. And it has been my great, great pleasure to be with you here today. I hope I haven’t preached too much. Thank you.
Kenneth Colburn: Wow. A fellow who can stare into the face of the most profound problem that humankind has ever faced and leave you with optimism and hope. Richard, thank you for your faith.
I’m a consultant. But, happily, one who grew up on a farm, so I can recognize the sheepdog from the sheep. You all know that states are the laboratories of democracy. It turns out that they’re laboratories of environmental action as well. States adopted acid rain programs five years before the federal Clean Air Act; they did toxics and mercury three years before, and so forth. So this isn’t new ground at all. And that’s just a few environmental issues, not the range of state lead-by-example activities. States are basically laboratories for what gets done in government. And we’re seeing that, certainly, on climate change.
If you look back to the late 1990s, there were a lot of things called “state climate action plans.” In fact, they were perhaps more worthy of the name “state action opportunity lists.” They were basically lists of nice things to do. They weren’t plans of how to do them, how much they would cost, or what they would accomplish. And if you draw a line at about the year 2000 and look at who had actually been doing some of the real work, no surprise, you get the usual suspects: the bi-coastal brotherhood of states that have historically taken environmental concerns seriously.
Things are different today. We have double the states, up to eighteen or so, that have actual, profound plans either done or underway. The Center for Climate Strategies—my organization—is helping with most of those. And there are some unusual suspects in that mix: some coal states, some Southeast states, where you don’t expect that sort of thing. Arizona and New Mexico recently completed their plans—in September, in Arizona’s case. These are comprehensive, all-sectors, yearlong processes that bring in multiple stakeholders from all walks of life within the state. They undertake policy selection; those policies are quantified pretty rigorously and then aggregated into the plan. Many of the policy options that are selected have negative costs; that’s what’s known in the vernacular as “savings.” Some of them have positive costs; but when you roll them together as a package, Arizona, the fastest-growing state in the union, can save almost half a billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent; and save $5.5 billion in the process over business as usual, while also generating almost three hundred thousand jobs.
The results against Arizona’s business-as-usual curve, being the fastest-growing state, show that Arizona can get back to 2000 levels by 2020 through this plan, and it can get down to half that amount by 2040. It’s stakeholder process concluded with forty-nine recommendations; forty-five of them were unanimous. You can imagine the political support that comes from that kind of consensus.
New Mexico has undertaken a similar process, and yielded similar results: sixty-nine recommendations, sixty-seven of them unanimous. A smaller state, they only save $2 billion between now and 2020, net present value, and the reductions the group established would exceed the governor’s goals.
California has also done a lot of work on this.
An effort a year or two ago that Walt Reid [director of Conservation and Science at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation] was heavily involved with, and its current effort, AB 32, analyzed by the University of California, Berkeley, shows California stands to add $4 billion to its economy—not just one time, but to the overall size of California’s economy—as well as eighty-three thousand jobs. There are similar results in all the other states where similar efforts are underway. These strategies are known technologies such as clean cars, appliance efficiency standards, distributed generation and combined heat and power, demand-side management, building codes and renewable portfolio standards. These are things that are available today. We just need to implement them.
Happily, there are even more states dipping their toes in the water and have partial efforts under way. They are doing greenhouse gas inventories and thinking about next steps or programs that have been announced but not yet launched. And when you add in those that we’re actually having conversations with, we have a critical mass.
Further, the climate issue is now resonating politically. The U.K. Guardian did a list recently of the one hundred top environmentalists, although they call them “campaigners,” of all time. Buddha was on this list. Governor Schwarzenegger beat Buddha on this list! You can’t buy that kind of publicity! A whole raft of new governors were elected last November with climate planks in their platforms. And now the Supreme Court has weighed in.
And the good news is that as we build to this critical mass and this confluence of forces, and when you look at what the scientists are telling us needs to be done?that’s where the leadership states’ plans already shake out. Concerted action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is doable with existing technologies, and it can produce a 70 to 80 percent reduction by 2050.
What’s more, as we saw illustrated in Arizona and New Mexico, if you look at where we’re going and where we would like to get to—and you look at energy conservation, clean energy, renewables, transportation measures and so forth?each of those things add up to a little over a quarter of what it would take. And you can look at the states’ experience of where those costs come in—energy efficiency saves $10 to $30 per ton; renewables are going to cost a bit; and transportation will save $30 to $35 per ton—and gross them up to the national level.
Taking those savings, assuming they are representative from those states that we’ve done, and applying them to the nation’s emissions as a whole, and we’re looking at reducing, by 2020, about 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually, and saving, in the process, about $31 billion annually by 2020. That’s a net present value, back-of-the-envelope calculation of over $100 billion between now and 2020. We may be off a decimal point here, but it’s far more likely that we’re off one positively than we’re off one negatively. It’s probably more likely to be $1 trillion than $10 billion, but the important thing is the sign. This is hugely doable.
I have one last thing to add. These state efforts take a lot of work so the state comes out with what it can do, what it should do based on the stakeholders, what it’ll cost, what it’ll yield and how they should approach it. These are expensive efforts, and the states don’t typically have the money to implement them. So many of you in this room have actually made these efforts and this demonstration of progress possible. Please keep it up. Thanks to all of you. I particularly want to thank the Global Philanthropy Forum for giving the issue of climate change the prominence here that it needs to have in Washington D.C. and Beijing and Delhi. Please join me in thanking a panel that, as serious as this issue is, leaves us with optimism.