How business leaders can accelerate clean energy

What should business leaders do to compensate for the lack of leadership on renewable energy from policy leaders in Washington?

They need to reframe their responsibility to compel the government to do its job, according to a congressman, Google's head of energy policy and market development and a former White House chief sustainability officer turned renewable energy finance entrepreneur, at a VERGE 17 panel. 

"Public policy is a substrate in which all of us are doing business, especially companies in an emerging sector like the clean economy," said Nicole Lederer, E2 co-founder. Policy defines access to markets, financing and operating on an even playing field. 

It is imperative for business leaders to leverage their market power to accelerate the change. 

"I hope you don't give up on Washington," said U.S. Representative Jared Huffman (D-Calif.). If you're not going to engage on energy policy, there is a business community who is participating in paving the road ahead.

"It's a good idea to be in the room," he said. "Important policy decisions hang in the balance in Washington. If you're at the table, it will make a positive difference." 

Business stand to gain from their efforts, said Michael Terrell, head of energy market development at Google: "When it comes to clean energy, from a business perspective, it's full steam ahead." 

A perspective on the influence of business around the policy table came from Jon Powers, co-founder of CleanCapital and the former White House chief sustainability officer under President Barack Obama. 

"You see the same faces over and over again," he said. "As a policymaker, that is incredibly powerful."