July 18, 2008

Al Gore calls for Carbon Free Electricity by 2018

In a speech at Constitution Hall in Washington yesterday former Vice President Al Gore put forward his new vision of how the climate change crisis has deteriorated to the point that:

The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk. And even more – if more should be required – the future of human civilization is at stake.

Never one for understatement, Mr. Gore went on to say that:

I don’t remember a time in our country when so many things seemed to be going so wrong simultaneously. Our economy is in terrible shape and getting worse, gasoline prices are increasing dramatically, and so are electricity rates. Jobs are being outsourced. Home mortgages are in trouble. Banks, automobile companies and other institutions we depend upon are under growing pressure. Distinguished senior business leaders are telling us that this is just the beginning unless we find the courage to make some major changes quickly.

I see my role as enlarging the political space in which Senator Obama or Senator McCain can confront this issue as president next year.

As Mr. Gore sees it the solution to these apparently overwhelming problems is to move from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy as quickly as possible. He lays out what most commentators view as a ridiculously ambitious target:

Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years. This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Americans – in every walk of life: to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and to every citizen.

As reported by the New York Times Barack Obama commented on Al Gore's speech that:

For decades, Al Gore has challenged the skeptics in Washington on climate change and awakened the conscience of a nation to the urgency of this threat. I strongly agree with Vice President Gore that we cannot drill our way to energy independence, but must fast-track investments in renewable sources of energy like solar power, wind power and advanced biofuels, and those are the investments I will make as president.

On behalf of John McCain, Tucker Bounds said:

John McCain has been a leader in the fight against global climate change, working with Democrats on this issue since 2003, but no one has more successfully recruited Americans into this effort than Al Gore. This is a key issue, and John McCain has put solutions over partisanship to pursue meaningful, market-driven cap and trade legislation aimed at drastically reducing harmful carbon emissions.

Whilst the US Presidential candidates slug it out over who has the better environmental credentials, you may be wondering what you can do about this issue, apart from wondering about which one to vote for if you live in the United States.

Here at econnexus we have a suggestion. Start wondering about your personal energy consumption, and in particular your personal energy efficiency. Energy efficiency didn't get much of a mention in Al Gore's speech, but he did say that:

Billions of dollars of new investment are flowing into the development of concentrated solar thermal, photovoltaics, windmills, geothermal plants, and a variety of ingenious new ways to improve our efficiency and conserve presently wasted energy.

We need to greatly improve our commitment to efficiency and conservation. That’s the best investment we can make.

Here at econnexus we agree with Mr. Gore that improving energy efficiency and conserving presently wasted energy is a really good idea. If everyone did what they could in this regard Al Gore's challenge would soon seem much less insurmountable.

Here's a video of Al Gore's complete speech:

The bit about energy efficiency is at around 18 minutes 30 seconds.

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