Well, when it comes to front pages in regards to Global Warming, it is Vice President Al Gore (and, well, elected but not sworn in President Gore) who (very legitimately) has the headlines and receives the (global) accolades.
Jimmy Carter is one of the two best ex-Presidents the United States has ever had (the other being George Washington, for walking away from the chance to be anointed King). Bit by bit, Bill Clinton seems to be seeking to try to make this into a three-way competition.
Clinton clearly seems to enjoy himself in many ways and has smiled his way to the bank with a lot of money.
He also, since leaving the White House, has been achieving things, real things, that often are underreported and undercredited. And, well, one of the underreported arenas is the William J. Clinton Foundation and its activities, including the Clinton Climate Initiative.
About the CCI
In the post Clinton-Gore Administration activities, it is not just Al who speaks about the planet and seeks action.
‘It no longer makes sense for us to debate whether or not the earth is warming at an alarming rate, and it doesn’t make sense for us to sit back and wait for others to act. The fate of the planet that our children and grandchildren will inherit is in our hands, and it is our responsibility to do something about this crisis.’ Bill Clinton
Clinton launched the CCI in August 2006. Its basic approach: using business-oriented concepts and approaches to fight Global Warming, using realistic metrics, aiming for substantive results.
The initial focus is via 40 major cities around the globe, which have signed up in partnership with CCI. Dependent on counting, cities contribute roughly 75 percent of GHG emissions (directly or indirectly) even though ‘just’ two percent of the earth’s land mass. Thus, focusing on major urban areas, seeking to have lessons bleed from these to other urban areas, is one means to potentially have a major shift in terms of reducing humanity’s carbon (and other GHG) footprint. (For example, see the May 07 NYC CCI city summit.)
Global Warming skeptics often focus on the messenger, Al Gore, rather than listening to the message. We should hope the same thing will not occur with the Clinton Global Initiative‘s (CGI) Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit Program which is related to CCI’s C40 Cities: Climate Leadership Group, which, again, brings together 40 of the world’s largest cities for collaboration and lesson sharing for tackling climate change.
Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit Program
This program will focus on improving the energy efficiency of urban areas.
Urban areas are responsible for approximately 75 percent of all energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Buildings account for nearly 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and in cities such as New York and London this figure is close to 70 percent.
The CGI brings together an important set of public-private partnerships. Major financial institutions have pledged at least $1 billion each in financing for energy efficiency retrofits (at not net cost), which means “a doubling the global market for energy retrofit in buildings.” How can this be done at no net cost?
[The] retrofit [of] existing buildings with more energy efficient products, typically leading to energy savings between 20 to 50 percent.
Four major energy services companies have committed to conducting energy auditings, performing the retrofits, and guaranteeing the energy savings of the retrofit projects. What do those savings mean?
Cities and building owners will pay back the loans plus interest with the energy savings generated by the reduced energy costs thanks to the building retrofits.
Fifteen of the world’s largest cities (Bangkok, Berlin, Chicago, Houston, Johannesburg, Karachi, London, Melbourne, Mexico City, Mumbai, New York, Rome, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Tokyo, and Toronto) have offered their municipal buildings for the first round of energy retrofits.
A version of this has been pursued by a number of US cities, such as the $100 million San Francisco Vote Solar bond, which combined energy efficiency with renewable energy projects. And, more recently, VA Tech’s efforts re efficient buildings in the DC area. This is very much like the Energize America concept for Energy Smart Communities Act bonds.
In the fight to turn the corner on Global Warming, people too often look to Silver Bullets, asserting that X or Y technology will save the day. There are those who assert that we need more R&D, that some magical solution will be coming down the pike. In fact, we shouldn’t be seeking Silver Bullets, but pursuing Silver BBs — as many of them as possible, both those in the hand and research for new, shiny BBs. Sadly, when it comes to Shiny, all too often in regards to Peak Oil and Global Warming, people speak to new energy sources, new fuels as somehow the solution (that Silver BB) ignoring the holisticview of energy: (a) what we want to do/have (the use), (b) energy source, and (c) how efficiently we use the energy. While not necessary that oh-so-Shiny iPod COOL Energy item like cheap solar power or a cool new transportation option, Energy Efficiency is an in-the-hand, quite tangible Silver BB to help change the nation’s and globe’s path forward toward a sustainable energy future.
Most buildings around the world have leaks (losing heat in the winter and cooling in the summer); windows that merit upgrading to reduce solar gain; insufficient insulation; and, well, the list can go on and on. From the simple screwing in compact fluorescents to replace incandescents to flush-less urinals (or even pee-cycling) to putting in cool/ white reflective (or, even better, green roofs) to considering active energy (such as solar hot water), the path forward toward more energy efficient urban structures is straightforward.
Sadly, it has not been easy. There have been too many reasons not to make the investment. Stovepipes make capital investment hard to find to offset operating costs. Who controls what money is often a problem. There is a dearth of understanding as to the cost/benefit relationship. Let’s be honest, most people are energy illiterate and simply don’t know how much money they are, literally in many ways, seeing washed down the drain. People can generate more enthusiasm for building a park or adding new capabilities than ‘behind the scenes’ repairs to improve a building’s energy efficiency. Faced with spending $5 million to have a new park or to install water saving devices, how many voters choose that water efficiency?
The Clinton Climate Initiative’s Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit Program should help break through these road-blocks, providing a cost-effective path for cities around the globe to invest in an energy-efficient future.
And, one of the true benefits of this path is that energy efficiency is the clear area where, without a doubt, acting far more aggressively will have serious economic and environmental benefits.
If you don’t live in one of these 15 cities, the question you should ask: how can I get my city on that list as quickly as possible?
More recently: Partnering with Walmart
And, well, if you live in one of those cities, you just might see some energy efficiency coming via Walmart’s partnership with the CCI. At at US Conference of Mayors meeting earlier this week, Clinton announced a partnership program to reduce the costs for energy efficiency related products for not just the 40 cities in the CCI, but also for the 1100 cities in the US Conference of Mayors.
I am pleased that the US Conference of Mayors, Wal-Mart and many businesses are working with my foundation to supply energy-efficient and clean-energy products. By offering these products at a discounted rate, we can ensure that more cities and citizens have access to them and that the market for clean-energy technology will grow. Together, I hope that we can have a measurable impact on greenhouse gas emissions around the world. President William J. Clinton, 1 Nov 07
The range of products that are on the table:
CCI’s purchasing consortium has negotiated discounted pricing agreements with 25 manufacturers of energy-efficient products, including indoor lighting, clean vehicles, traffic and street lighting, building products, advanced waste management technologies, water system components and alternative energy technologies. As a result, participating cities will have access to hundreds of individual products that reduce energy consumption in buildings, decrease fuel consumption and pollution by vehicles and capture and convert landfill methane into electricity. These and additional products will be offered to interested municipal governments at discounted prices ranging from 5 to 15 percent below current levels for commodity items and from 15 to 70 percent below current levels for non-commodity items.
Well, the partnership with Wal-Mart legitimately causes concern but when it comes to their own, internal, operations (not necessarily their business model), Wal-Mart is making serious drives to cut energy use and carbon footprint (while making (saving) money by doing so). (Note that Wal-Mart’s leadership seems to ‘buy into’ Global Warming and its threats — even if ‘just’ threats to their business model. A good number of The Climate Project trainees were Wal-Mart employees.) And, well, Wal-Mart has serious data gathering history on all their efforts; they have a clear understanding of what has and hasn’t worked. And, they have been willing to share much of this information with other businesses and organizations, which now includes the US Conference of Mayors and the CCI.
CCI and Wal-Mart will use their combined purchasing resources to further drive down the prices of green technologies. Additionally, CCI and Wal-Mart will work together to identify and examine new energy efficient products, such as LED parking lot lights and best-in-class HVAC systems, and new methods to procure and utilize clean energy, such as solar power.
Based on this, perhaps we can hope to see Wal-Mart’s leading edge energy saving paths (such as white roofs, high-end skylights that cut into indoor lighting requirements, high-fly ash content in concrete, etc) entering into the building programs of cities around the country as soon as possible.
When it comes to Global Warming, the Clinton-Gore Administration has been showing real leadership and creating paths for real impact, even if they have been out of office nearly seven years. Real leadership, real impact, even if we should refer to it as the Gore-Clinton Administration of American leadership on Global Warming.
We can all
Are you doing
your part to
Both Clinton and Gore spoke at the US Conference of Mayors climate conference in Seattle. For an interesting take on this, see Grist.