Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Obama’s New Day: Doing Our Part with Green Businesses

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

With Barack Obama’s inauguration, a new day has arrived.  Today he became the 44th president of the US.  Throughout his campaign he has promised change, but perhaps the promise was not necessary.  Like it or not change has come to us; it is up to us to greet the change and adapt to it. 

 

In the midst of unprecedented challenges, President Obama’s tone in his speech was somber but hopeful.  Speaking of the many challenges we face, he emphasized the responsibility we each hold to rise and meet them.  He restated his commitment to having the government help, but he also laid out the necessity for each of us to do our part. 

 

From Obama’s inaugural address today:

 

“This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”

 

He touched today again on the need for cleaner energy to revitalize our economy:

 

“The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.”

 

I feel like we are turning the corner.  Even with the economy down, the world is ripe with opportunity for those who take this responsibility and get into action moving forward with solutions.  Those in business, government, and individual citizens must all do our part.  In the business world, one way to contribute is with businesses that provide clean energy solutions, getting our economy moving today and investing in a better world for the future.

 

To help make this happen, Obama’s team has proposed as part of the economic stimulus plan a major new investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency.  This hasn’t happened yet, but is likely to pass quickly, reflecting the urgency of the need for action.

 

These efforts are not going to happen with the government alone, but with the government creating the right conditions for businesses in these fields to thrive.  Beyond renewable energy, a broad range of other green businesses will also see great opportunities continue to unfold as they make our economy more efficient, and more sustainable.  As I describe in “75 Green Businesses” and at Starting Up Green, there are opportunities for people from almost any background to get involved and start a green business that provides a brighter future for themselves, for our country, and for the world.  I speak all the time with green entrepreneurs who tell me that despite what is happening in the rest of the economy, they are seeing their business continue to grow, helping both the economy and the environment.

 

The journey has just begun, and Obama will not solve all of our problems for us. He will be a busy man in the months and years ahead, but he won’t be alone.  We must all work together to translate words into action, to rise and meet the challenges we are faced with and move beyond them.  These are big problems and won’t be solved overnight, but we can do it and we will.  Lets get started.

The Nation’s Chief Sustainability Officer

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

With Obama’s inauguration just a few days away, the economy is still at the top of the agenda, but this does not mean that environmental initiatives are forgotten.  With just a few days left before he takes office Obama toured the Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Company in Ohio that makes parts for wind turbines and gave a speech there about the economy.   He talked about the latest economic stimulus package being proposed, hoping to save or create 3-4 million jobs.  Many of these jobs are tied to expanded use of renewable energy, a long term investment in both the economy and the environment. 

 

The $850 billion economic stimulus plan, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, includes support for renewable energy, and energy efficiency.  The details of the plan being unveiled include $20 billion in incentives for a variety of forms of renewable energy, and $54 billion to improve the grid and to invest in energy efficiency in buildings, the electrical grid, and transportation.  In addition to solar and wind, the plan includes incentives for a broad range of other forms of renewable energy such as waste to energy, methane from landfills, and geothermal energy.

 

President-Elect Obama said in his speech:

 

“That’s why, as part of our Recovery and Reinvestment plan, we’re committing to double the production of renewable energy in the next three years, and to modernize more than 75% of federal buildings and improve the energy efficiency of two million American homes.

 

In the process, we’ll put nearly half a million people to work building wind turbines and solar panels; constructing fuel-efficient cars and buildings; and developing the new energy technologies that will lead to new jobs, more savings, and a cleaner, safer planet in the bargain.”

 

This sounds like a big leap in the right direction, and it’s about time.  We have some leaping to do. 

 

We’ve had a great deal of grass roots action on the green front, with people, local and state governments taking the lead in the absence of environmental leadership at the US Government level.  This might be changing.  While the grass roots efforts are a wonderful start, an effective response to the problems we face requires a coordinated effort at the highest level, with strong leadership.  Many businesses these days are hiring Chief Sustainability Officers, the Chief Green.  Obama might just be our next Chief Green for the US, providing national leadership on both economic and environmental recovery.

 

During the presidential campaign (remember the campaign?), Thomas Friedman remarked that he was less concerned if we have the first black president, or the first woman president, than if we have the first green president.   The show’s not over yet, and hasn’t even started but the previews look good.  Let’s keep the green grass roots growing, and do what we can to support this kind of bold national action that moves us forward toward a brighter future.