Our Low-Carbon Future? Lessons Learned and Current Opportunities from Both Sides of the Atlantic
On June 24, 2009, an International Riverside Chat brought Michael Allegretti and Dr. Georg Riegel together to discuss transatlantic opportunities in moving toward a low-carbon future. Michael Allegretti is the Head of Government Relations at the Climate Group, and Dr. Georg Riegel is founder and CEO of deZem GmbH, a consulting company that offers services to help businesses optimize their energy efficiency.
Mr. Allegretti opened the discussion with a review of the current political path that the United States has taken under the new administration. With the recent stimulus packages, a considerable amount of money is being directed towards clean energy and climate goals. Mr. Allegretti pointed out the significance of the Waxman-Markey bill as bringing the United States to the table. Although not novel, the bill is nevertheless very important because it implies that the United States will start taking action now. However, the most significant hurdle for the legislation will take place in the Senate, where it will be difficult to gain the 66 votes required for the bill to pass.
Dr. Riegel focused his portion of the discussion on realizing better efficiencies. First, he pointed out that the current system wastes nearly half of all energy. Second, there needs to be a connection with people to make a change. And finally, there are simple changes that can be made to address this issue without a significant overhaul of the energy system. According to him, command and control is not as effective as good information. With better information and some training, it is possible to make a significant impact.
In the subsequent discussions, visiting delegates taking part in the Transatlantic Climate Bridge visit, hosted by the German Federal Foreign Office, were eager to hear how to practically implement the measures that Dr. Riegel focused on, as part of a climate program that Mr. Allegretti had outlined. Common themes emerged, such as the difficulties of moving forward in spite of the economic crisis, and how to incorporate green-collar training programs as part of a shift towards a low-carbon economy.
The Riverside Chat was held as part of a thematic visitors program entitled “Transatlantic Climate and Energy Cooperation: Working together, Learning from each other”, sponsored by the German Federal Foreign Office and organized by the Ecologic Institute. As part of the program, policymakers from the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee and Virginia were invited by the German government, with the help of The Climate Group, to take part in a week-long introduction to German climate and energy policies.