Cross posted from The Great Energy Challenge
Anaheim, CA – Over the past few months, I’ve made the case that the dirty energy lobby plays a full contact game against clean energy, using lobbying and disinformation as business weapons to drive the idea that clean energy is “expensive, unreliable and not ready.” Cleantech, I’ve said, needs to step up its advocacy game dramatically, including driving an honest debate about who is really “expensive.”
At the WINDPOWER International trade show this week, I spoke on a panel that fielded a number of questions about how to do that. It’s hard to find a better place to start than by highlighting the clinic put on by Kate Gordon of the Center for American Progress at a recent “debate” that was hosted by the fossil energy-funded front group, the Cato Institute.
Two weeks ago, I visited the office of a friend of mine, a partner at a top cleantech Silicon Valley law firm. He and I shared a concern about the increasingly hostile, anti-clean energy propaganda from dirty energy-funded critics who are trying to position clean energy as expensive, subsidy-dependent, and “not ready.” The good news, my friend said, was that he’s increasingly hearing from cleantech executives and investors concerned about these growing attacks on their investments. The bad news was that many of those concerned don’t connect the attacks with the dirty energy money that’s funding them.
“Now what cleantech needs to hear is, ‘No more Mr. Nice Guy’,” he told me. “These [dirty energy] guys are out to kick our butts, and they will if we let them.”
I think my friend is right. However, after attending last week’s Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit, I think there’s a ways to go before enough cleantech players see that dirty energy is using media and government to protect its capital investments and decades-long feeding at the public trough.
Cancun - When I started working on solar energy issues several years ago, I heard it repeatedly: “Everyone loves solar.” Back then, many people in solar and other cleantech sectors saw long-term meritocracy in the energy business. Public demand, technological advances and aninevitable price on carbon were going to drive cleantech to dominance over time. “Renewable energy,” it was often said, “will soon become just plain ‘energy’.”
From the gridlocked global warming treaty negotiations here in Cancun, however, the picture seems starkly different. The Congressional climate bill fight ended in disaster, the recession tightened credit markets, and the coal and oil industries bought themselves a new Congress last month. And that global carbon market many were counting on? The most optimistic note Thursday night from a top U.S. treaty negotiator, Jonathan Pershing, was “maybe next year.”