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Florida Conference Brings Hope for Conquering Climate Change

Buck Parker, Earthjustice Executive Director, recently attended a two-day conference organized by Florida governor Charlie Crist that assembled leaders from the energy industry, the environmental community, and government. He came away from the meeting, he says, "more optimistic" about our chances of reversing global warming than he's ever been. Here are a few observations.

  • "It's fascinating to see the Republican governors of the first and fourth most populous states -- Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Charlie Crist of Florida -- making a clean and public break with their party's leaders and becoming vocal and committed leaders in the fight against global warming. Crist is enormously popular -- 70 percent approval rating in the polls -- and he's explicitly modeling himself on Schwarzenegger, who has made climate change a top priority. This is clearly an issue that transcends party.

  • "Arnold has a passage in his speech describing a billboard in Michigan that reads 'Arnold to Michigan: Drop Dead,' to which Schwarzenegger says, 'I'm not saying Drop Dead, I'm saying get off your b*tts. If you can't make cars with super low emissions, someone in Japan or somewhere else will.'"

  • "Attendees came from environmental groups, mostly Florida, some national, from alternative energy companies, financial institutions. The utilities weren't going to attend but finally decided they'd better. Not a single soul from the Bush administration. A reporter I ran into said, 'The people in shorts and backpacks are happy; the people in suits are not.'"

  • "In the end, what may have been the most compelling impression was that there's money to be made in moving to a non-carbon economy, that renewable energy is the wave of the future, and that enormous progress can be made simply by encouraging research and development of renewables through the same kinds of subsidies that coal, oil, nuclear, and other conventional industries have enjoyed for years. In fact, it's time to stop subsidizing carbon-based energy sources and switch the assistance to renewables."

  • "Changing to a non-carbon economy can be done."