The Hottest Tickets for 2008

The Hottest Tickets for 2008

A new year, a new calendar of green and clean events. Mine is looking awfully busy, with new conferences and events joining old reliable ones.

This spring, three new events will be hot (and pricey) tickets. In chronological order:

  • ECO:nomics - the Wall Street Journal's first-ever environmental event, March 12-14, in Santa Barbara, Calif. This is about as high-level as it gets, featuring CEOs Jeff Immelt of GE, Andrew Liveris of Dow, James Rogers of Duke, Lee Scott of Wal-Mart, and Patricia Woertz of ADM. Plus: John Doerr, Vinod Kholsa, Robert Lutz, Robert Reich, and Arnold Schwarznegger. Oh, and Ed Begley, Jr. Being the Journal, there will be a healthy representation from the neocon crowd, such as Fred Singer of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, no doubt talking about how all this corporate do-good stuff is a distraction from the business of making money; Junk Science author and Fox News columnist Steven Milloy; and Red Cavaney of the American Petroleum Institute. Clearly, the Journal doesn't want any riff-raff: There's a $3,495 registration fee - if you can score an invitation.
  • Aspen Environment Forum - the premiere of the Aspen Institute's foray into the environmental world, March 26-30, in Aspen, Colo. The conference is an outgrowth of the Aspen Ideas Festival I've written about in the past. The emphasis here is on conversation over cachet, with four dozen or so thought leaders: NGO leaders like NRDC's Frances Beinecke, Earth Policy Institute's Lester Brown, Pew Center's Eileen Claussen, and the Rocky Mountain Institute's Amory Lovins; entrepreneurs like Energy Innovation's Andrew Beebe and New Resource Bank's Peter Liu; environmental justice advocates Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx and Van Jones of the Ella Baker Center; and an assortment of corporate types, journalists, scientists, and others. I'll be leading a session on corporate environmental strategies. Registration is $1,700, though discounts are available to "government and non-profit employees, international guests, and university faculty and students."
  • Brainstorm: GREEN - Fortune magazine's entry, April 21-22, in Pasadena, Calif. Another invitation-only event, this one will focus, as its name implies, on interactive brainstorming. Organizer (and GreenBiz blogger) Marc Gunther, senior writer at Fortune covering corporate environmental and social responsibility, has brought together  a diverse group of speakers, including CEOs (Dell's Michael Dell, Sam's Club's Doug McMillon, Dupont's Chad Holiday), NGO leaders (NRDC's Beinecke, US Green Building Council's Rick Fedrizzi, Ceres' Mindy Lubber), and assorted others from Autodesk, Conservation International, Goldman Sachs, GreenOrder, Herman Miller, Marriott, McDonald's, McKinsey, Union of Concerned Scientists, and more. As Gunther told me recently: "I'm hoping to get beyond the discussion of companies 'going green' to ask what impact they are having, and whether they are changing fast enough, given the scale of the problems." I'll on a panel titled "The Green Consumer: Myth or Reality," with Sam's Club's McMillon and Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farm, moderated by Arianna Huffington. Admission is $2,000, but, like the Journal event, you've got to apply.

There are others. This year, being even-numbered, brings back the biennial GLOBE conference (March 12-14, in Vancouver), which brings together a vast audience of corporate and NGO types from Canada, Europe, and the U.S. This year's GLOBE features a piggy-back conference Auto FutureTech Summit 2008, another premiere event, co-produced by impresario Brad Berman.

And finally, the fourth annual Clean-Tech Investor Summit, co-produced by my colleagues and I at Clean Edge (February 6-7, in Palm Springs, Calif.). As in past years, we'll assemble 500 or so clean-tech entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and investment professionals for presentations and conversation in a solar-drenched locale. Should be good.

Keep in mind, those are just the highlights. There are many more opportunities to learn and schmooze this year. Check the calendars on and Clean Edge for more.

Just remember to offset those travel emissions.