Peter Fusaro knows environmental finance markets. As the Chairman of Global Change Associates, Fusaro is an energetic and tenacious green markets cheerleader with over 34 years of government policy and industry experience. When he took the stage at his 9th annual Wall Street Green Trading Summit last week in New York City, audience members perked up and paid attention.
“It’s the Green Economy, stupid,” said Fusaro.
From carbon markets to green energy loans and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs, more than 225 professionals gathered at this conference to learn about a variety of innovative financing mechanisms. “This conference has always been the practitioners’ conference,” said Fusaro. “This is about people doing things: innovative things, risky things, pushing the envelope and moving forward.”
Restarting the Green Engine
If the path to economic development is paved with green technology, some suggest that the car is in neutral. Unfortunately, for the past few months, the political machine of Washington has been consumed by partisan wrangling over medical insurance. Now, with the healthcare debate behind us, there seemed to be a renewed sense of optimism among conference participants.
“The lack of interest in carbon is appalling, but you have to look long term. Long term, the United States will be re-engaged in this issue of green house gas reductions,” said Fusaro.
This re-engagement provides both environmental and economic benefits. “This will create long term job opportunities,” said Fusaro, adding “We need engineering and technology professionals along with financial services professionals. We also need analysts for clean technology and renewables such as biofuels, solar and wind.”
“The sector is a lot bigger then most people realize. We’re talking about a $6 trillion dollar business called energy. It needs more knowledge capital. We need education at all levels,” said Fusaro.
Looking Back to Go Forward
We can learn a great deal from examining the past and what we discover is that our road to energy consumption was paved with the best of intentions. According to Fusaro, “The reality is the United States economy was built on cheap energy. It wasn’t madness of engineers. We had abundant natural resources. It was just how we did things.”
Changing our attitudes about energy is a slow process, but one that reveals an extraordinary opportunity to re-engineer the status quo.
Said Fusaro, “What is really endemic and needed is a behavioral change. This has to be part of our DNA. We have to think differently. The United States cannot consume 21 percent of the world’s oil anymore.”
Peter Fusaro’s comments resonated with other market focused sentiments expressed throughout the conference. We find ourselves in an era of global growth, resource constraints and an ecosystem in peril. With New York as a backdrop for the Wall Street Green Trading Summit, it’s clear that capital markets will play a central role in driving positive environmental change.
Lee Barken, CPA, LEED-AP is the IT practice leader at Haskell & White, LLP and serves on the board of directors of CleanTECH San Diego and the US Green Building Council, San Diego chapter. Lee writes and speaks on the topics of carbon accounting, green building, IT audit compliance, enterprise security and wireless LAN technology. He was a delegate at the December 2009 COP15 climate conference in Copenhagen. You can reach him at 858-350-4215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.