Skip to main content

A Call for 1 Million Climate Pros to Rally at National Mall

<p>The ultimate nightmare for Congress is an angry mob with money. Yet, the renewable energy industry has so far failed to use its&nbsp;economic might, and its anger over failed U.S. energy policy, to convince policymakers that renewable energy is the economic pillar of future U.S. success. We don&rsquo;t need more &ldquo;constructive engagement&rdquo; with our representatives in D.C. We need blunt force trauma. We need a million suits on the Mall.</p>

A wise man once said that contemporary politics is fueled by two things: raising money and a fear of angry mobs.

OK, I actually said that.

Nevertheless, it makes sense that the ultimate nightmare for D.C. lawmakers would be an angry mob with money.

At the Renewable Energy Finance Forum-West recently in San Francisco, a gathering of top financiers, project developers, executives, etc., it was clear that there are a lot of angry and frustrated American businesspeople with money who are sick and tired of Washington's refusal to treat renewable energy and cleantech as THE pillar of our future economic growth (not to mention a solution to our increasingly resource-constrained world).

Not surprisingly during REFF, Beijing’s aggressive moves to become the cleantech power were repeatedly contrasted against D.C.’s cowardice and failure to act. Yet, so far the efforts to change the situation in D.C. by the broader clean energy business community have added up to only a sliver of the lobbying dollars spent by Big Oil and Coal, plus the occasional pilgrimage to D.C. by a few handfuls of business leaders to implore action (and increasingly that requested action is just short-term fixes, not long-term solutions).

So with Solar Power International just around the corner; with WindPower coming up in May 2011; I have a question for Rhone Resch and for Denise Bode: Why are you gathering your mobs with money in Los Angeles?

Perhaps what’s not needed is the current drip campaign, nor “constructive engagement” with the representatives in D.C., but blunt force trauma. Congress, and especially the Senate, needs to be convinced that the clean economy interest group is just as powerful as the fossil fuel lobby, with the money to back up its talk.

Congress also needs to viscerally feel that the clean economy is a money-making, tax-generating, vote-swaying reality. So I have two specific calls to action for the renewable energy industry:

  1. For the next three years, EVERY major trade show for every sector of clean energy -- solar, wind, geothermal, power storage, smart grid (thanks Gridwise Alliance Forum for being in D.C. already), should take place in Washington, D.C. Seeing is believing. If Solar Power’s 50,000 delegates, Windpower’s 25,000 delegates and other similar numbers descended on D.C. every year and disrupted congressional limos, lawmakers might pay more attention.
  2. That 1,000,000 business people -- employers and employees (present and future) -- from the clean energy industry descend on the Capitol Building on March 21, 2011, and show the power and confidence of the new “industrial evolution”. Not NGOs, not lobbyists, but the real deal -- CEOs, CFOs, installers, retrofitters, you name it. If we need a sea change in U.S. energy policy, let’s put a sea of angry people with money at the doorstep of those failing to act.

Jeff Immelt of GE: You called Congress “stupid” because of it’s failed energy and climate policy. Will you sign on?

Jim Rogers of Duke Energy: You’ve argued that the most energy efficient economy will be the leader of the 21st century. Will you sign on?

Bill Gates: You want billions of dollars more investment in clean energy R&D. Sign up.

Tom Friedman of the New York Times: You clearly have a bee in your bonnet on this topic. Will you show up?

Being an optimist, I have already created an event page on Facebook, called the Million Business Voices for a Clean Energy Economy and another on LinkedIn. If there are at least 10,000 people signed up before October 10, this thing might have a chance. So spread the word.

William Brent is executive vice president at Weber Shandwick and head of the global firm’s renewable energy and cleantech practice.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user PinkMoose.

More on this topic

More by This Author