I am attending the 12th annual EUEC (Energy and Environment Conference) in Phoenix for the early part of this week. I guess they had to move the conference from previous venues to the Phoenix Convention Center to accommodate the large number of registrants. There are over 450 different speakers and presentations.
My observations from the first day have been as follows:
1) Despite the terrible economy the interest in environmental, green energy and climate change continues to grow. It is truly amazing to see the number of companies and organizations in attendance. There is also a distinct feeling in the air that the change in Administration will mean explosive growth and new opportunities.
2) The most interesting presentation on the first day was from U.S. EPA’s Frank Princiotti. He discussed the prospect of global climate change and the implications for the planet. But even more interesting was his assessment of the world’s ability to meet this challenge. Despite the many statements that we have the technology right now to address global climate change, his assessment was much more dire. For example, he said carbon sequestration would not be ready until at least 2020 or 2030 saying his "DOE colleagues would back him on that statement."
His basic theme was "we need a technology revolution" and even if that happens it will not be enough to avoid significant impacts from global warming. We are at best trying to avoid catastrophic impacts from global warming even with very significant mitigation efforts.
He indicated that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions should be supplemented with other efforts. Namely man made engineering to reduce the impacts of climate change. Such as seeding clouds or creating a reflective layer in the earth atmosphere to deflect the suns effects on a warming planet-Now that is a scary proposition. Man trying to effect the global temperature through quick fix engineering. But he put up a slide of leading scientists from around the globe that say this must be under serious consideration.
3) Another interesting presentation was made by Roger Martella, who is no with the law firm of Sidley Austin, Prior to that he was EPA’s general counsel during the Mass v. EPA litigation. His perspective was that despite the knocks on the Bush Administration the EPA had done a tremendous amount of work on climate change. In essence, his perspective was the foundation was laid during the Bush Administration EPA for President Obama to move quickly on climate change. He predicted that April 2nd of this year (the 2nd anniversary of Mass. v. EPA) may be the date of a major announcement by the Obama Administration on Climate Change. Perhaps the endangerment finding will move forward which will trigger regulation under the Clean Air Act of greenhouse gases.
I look forward to the next couple days. My first certainly has been enlightening. My conclusion from the first day is that if President Obama is serious about addressing climate change (and I think he is) most still do not comprehend the magnitude of change that is upon us.