Green Business Super Powers Speak at Brainstorm Green Conference

Green Business Super Powers Speak at Brainstorm Green Conference

So much conversation has packed into so little time at Fortune's Brainstorm Green conference about business and the environment that it's difficulty to absorb it all. Some great panels today on "clean coal," Green Super Powers (GE, Wal-Mart, IBM) and green jobs. There's video from the event here. Meanwhile, here are few quotes that caught my attention:

Michael Kowalski, the CEO of Tiffany & Co., on why he had never before come to a "green" conference: "Fear of being accused of greenwashing. There is still so much work to be done"

Van Jones, the White House's green jobs czar, on his first six weeks on the job: "Everyone who hears that you work in the White House thinks you see Barack Obama every day. I've seen the guy twice and I almost fainted the first time."

Also from Van Jones: "It's a long winding road from the time that someone signs a bill into law to the time when someone signs a paycheck."

Kevin Surace, CEO of Serious Materials, a company that makes more sustainable building materials, on the changes ahead: "This is a new industrial revolution. It doesn't happen once in a lifetime. It happens once in 100 years."

Again, Van Jones: "We have to rethink in a fundamental way, what is an economy for? How do we meet not only our own needs but the needs of our children and grandchildren going forward."

Van Jones, again: "People need a paycheck. That's for sure. But people also need a purpose. This is a movement about redefining what work is. Is our work going to be a curse on this planet or a blessing on all creation?"

Jones: "People talk about Barack Obama as the first black president -- he's the first green president also."

Michael Morris, CEO of American Electric power, No. 1 emitter of CO2 in the U.S., on the transition to cleaner energy that is underway: "This is a very costly issue and America needs to know that. Let's not pretend that this is free."

Morris, when asked who opposes his company's plan for a high voltage line to get renewable energy to major markets: "People who don't want something in their backyard, which means most Americans."

Michael Brune of Rainforest Action Network: "The reality is that there is no such thing as clean coal. The physical requirements of doing that, the energy costs, the financial costs are so great. I'm not saying that it can't be done. I'm saying that we shouldn't even try. "

David Hawkins, climate analyst and activist, Natural Resources Defense Council: "It's not clean coal. It's better coal."

Hawkins, on why any climate legislations must appeal to coal-state Democrats: "Job one is dealing with the politics. Unfortunately, saying it will all be done with efficiency and renewables is not a compelling answer. We need a strategy that is going to get us legislation right away."

Hawkins: "The coal industry has earned its bad reputation. The coal industry has been associated inextricably with environmental degradation. But we still need better coal."

Fedele Bauccio, CEO of Bon Appetit food-service company: "Our chefs are implementing low-carbon diet without losing money or customers"

My friend Adam Lashinsky has a smart, quick look at the conference at the Fortune website, called "Seven Lessons About the Green Economy."

Finally, I want to enthusiastically recommend a Fortune article by Jeffrey O'Brien about IBM and its efforts to apply information technology to attack problems like gridlock, energy waste and supply chain transparency. It's a terrific read.