Thoughts On Accountability and Opportunity As the Credit Crisis Slows Investment In Clean Energy Development

11-25-Foreclosure.jpgI just finished reading this post on Grist and a N.Y Times article that it links to about the credit crisis slowing investment in clean energy development, and I’ve gotta say – I’m pretty hoppin’ mad. As one of the sources cited in The Times piece acknowledged:

“financing for carbon-cutting projects is harder to find and…financiers (are) more cautious than before the crunch.”

Reading this N.Y. Times expose last weekend detailing how the Bush Administration’s policy blunders and negligence on oversight have brought us to this point didn’t exactly help me feel better. Lovely – thanks for bringing us to the verge of another Panic of 1873. As top market analysts have stated:

“We still don’t know the extent of the damage still coming from Lehman. But we do know that the federal government has made it so we are all afraid. That’s not going away. My hope is this — new president, better team.” – Jim Cramer,

“Recessions are simply part of the business cycle… Depressions are caused by governments making major policy mistakes. And we have made some in the areas of not regulating mortgage lending, allowing the five large investment banks to increase their leverage to 30 or 40 to one in 2004 (what was the SEC thinking?), and failing to oversee the rating agencies.” – John Maudlin, Thoughts from the Frontline Weekly Newsletter, 10/10/2008

While other sources in the articles about impacts of the credit crisis on clean energy investment fortunately remained optimistic – as do I – one thing that leaves me at a loss of words as I consult with top sources to understand both the problem and the best potential solutions is this: where is the accountability?

Name me one person charged by the Administration with overseeing Wall Street and the economy who’s been fired, reprimanded, transferred, tarred and feathered, or forced to eat McDonalds for 30 days straight… Or who’s stood up to bravely take the heat for our government’s gross mismanagement of its oversight of the financial system.
Granted, we’re about to have a big national accountability moment in a few weeks – on November 4th. I’m a registered independent – I vote by issues not by party. But there’s no way that if this was a Democratic administration and a Republican Congress, Congress wouldn’t be screaming like Puritans at the Salem Witch Trials for heads to be rolling and people to go to jail.
As the credit crisis slows investment needed to fuel clean energy and energy efficiency projects – the seeds of the emerging green economy that YOU are helping give birth to if you’re reading this blog – it’s time to get vocal and (1) demand some accountability here, and (2) step up to become part of the greater policy solution. Aside from our work advancing green living and business solutions and voting, we need to write to and meet with our local, state, and federal representatives – and make sure that the best ideas for how to green the recovery, from a ‚Äò100 Days of Climate (and Energy) Action‘ to ‚ÄòGreen Collar Jobs‘, to how to gain ‚ÄòFreedom from Oil‘ to ‘Plan B‘ and ‘Natural Capitalism‘ (among my favorites), are actually incorporated into legislation. We need to become active in the policy arena, as Focus the Nation leader, Eban Goodstein, emphasizes.
What steps do YOU recommend right now to help America and the world turn this crisis into the opportunity we’ve been waiting for: to gain major policy victories that propel us into the next – green-powered – economy?

3 responses

  1. Hey Jon – good insight here, but where have we seen for sure that we’re going to lose out on investment in alternative energy? Or efficiency? Given that these things obviously help stimulate a new, greener economy I’m expecting these areas to boom.

  2. Check out the link to the Grist article, and the NY Times article that it links to… I’ve also seen this discussed in a few other places.
    I absolutely agree that these are going to remain very strong areas for investment, but the sources I was reading pointed to some slowing in investment due to the credit crisis (and also due to ongoing policy uncertainties – which the next administration will hopefully take a lead role in alleviating). With Peak Oil approaching and Climate Change seeming to be accelerating (with all kinds of positive feedbacks seeming to be kicking in – like the methane chimneys recently discovered in the Arctic Ocean), we really can’t afford much delay…
    I’m also worried that lower oil prices could blunt calls for alternatives (as it has in the past), though reading The Oil Drum, it sounds like supplies remain VERY tight, and a little uptick in the economy will bring prices right back up. Which is why, of course, delays in getting new cleaner, more efficient transport and other energy technologies ready for prime time could prove both costly and painful… That was my motivation for writing up this post…

  3. Shouldn’t we focus on what works?
    Where do the economics work for alternative energy? I have a few to share.
    Biomass co-firing with coal.
    Geothermal solar when a company needs hot water.
    Both of these solutions can be financed with positive carbon offsets.
    Slow food – Organic food on so many levels works. In the northeast young entrepreneurs are taking surplus foods to the next level by bottling, canning and producing other products with the surplus food from local farms.
    sustainable driving directions

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