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Different Ways to Get There

  |   Advocacy, Cleantech Industry News, Cleantech San Diego, Climate Action, Energy Efficiency, Smart Cities San Diego

The media today is reporting that the European Union (EU) is preparing to ease some of its climate change mitigation rules. The political reasoning is that the EUs of greenhouse gas (GHG ) reduction efforts, which are driven by a desire to achieve a long term global benefit, are in conflict with EU countries’ near term economic imperatives. The global recession continues in many European countries, and the political pressure to make economies better right now is understandably much stronger than the pressure to make the world more livable in the future.

From inception, CleanTECH San Diego has been based on the premise that something as long term as climate change mitigation needs to be addressed in a manner that will withstand the inevitable economic and political cycles. For this reason, our members have focused on the business side of cleantech. What can be done that is “clean” and “sustainable” while at the same time creating immediate jobs and economic opportunities?

This question is more important today than ever. Early approaches to politically define GHG reduction targets were centered on the production of cleaner power, primarily through renewables such as wind and solar. Certainly that was the EU’s focus. What we have learned over the past few years is that while renewables have huge potential to produce an ever increasing share of the power mix, there are economic and systems limits to just how much GHG reduction can come from the production side alone.

But production is only part of the story. Energy is produced because there is demand. Reduce demand and the production needs are reduced. Saving a megawatt is always faster and cheaper than figuring out new ways to produce that megawatt.

What is so exciting is that products and ideas and methods to save massive numbers of megawatts are evolving rapidly. Society clearly needs to continue to develop its wind and solar resources, as we push hard to reduce the need for fossil fuel generated power. At the same time, rather than back off of important GHG reduction targets, as the EU is considering,  business and political leaders need to maximize and emphasize the great potential of energy demand reduction technologies. By taking a broader policy approach, it is possible to maintain forward-looking GHG targets, the very existence of which spur the immediate innovation, job, and economic growth that countries and workers everywhere need for immediate economic security.

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Jim Waring, Executive Chairman and Co-founder of CleanTECH San Diego

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