Friday, January 22, 2010

Amory Lovins

New article in "Foreign Policy" from Amory Lovins, one of the world's most brilliant and far-sighted thinkers on energy issues. It weaves the nuclear proliferation, climate change and oil dependence problems together and proposes a workable solution that advances national interests. Good stuff.

On Proliferation, Climate, and Oil: Solving for Pattern

JANUARY 21, 2010

[sample excerpts]

One false assumption can distort and defeat policies vital to paramount national interests. The Copenhagen climate conference proved again how pricing carbon and winning international collaboration are hard if policymakers assume climate protection is costly, focusing debate on cost, burden, and sacrifice.

That assumption is backwards: Business experience proves climate protection is not costly but profitable, because saving fuel costs less than buying fuel. Changing the conversation to profits, jobs, and competitive advantage sweetens the politics, melting resistance faster than glaciers. Whether you care most about security, prosperity, or environment, and whatever you think about climate science, you'll favor exactly the same energy choices: focusing on outcomes, not motives, can forge broad consensus.


Since Washington proposes nuclear fuel security initiatives, why not broader energy security initiatives? What if the Obama administration announced it would help spread the best buys it's adopting -- efficien­cy, renew­ables, distributed energy systems -- to all desirous developing coun­tries, unconditionally and nondiscriminatorily? Most such countries are renewable-rich, but infrastructure-poor. They could welcome "Sunbeams for Peace" for the same hard-nosed reasons that made China the world leader in five renewable technologies, with energy efficiency its top strategic priority -- not forced by treaty, but informed by Premier Wen Jiabao's and his fellow-leaders' understanding that otherwise Beijing can't afford to develop.
Perhaps the United States, which invented many of these technologies, could even try to reclaim part of the burgeoning market it abandoned to China, Japan, and Europe.


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