What Would Our Climate Policy Look Like?

1 sky - three asksThe youth climate movement is gearing up to burst onto the national political scene in a massive way this weekend, with Power Shift 07 and Step It Up 2. The Nov. 5th Lobby Day will be a critical component of that and we will be joining the fight as part of the 1 Sky Campaign.

1 Sky – Three Asks

However, how we are going to Mobilize America, Secure Our Future, or Transform our Energy Priorities is a complex question. This is where the painstakingly acquired skills and experiences of the youth climate movement are so valuable. The smart economists and policy experts at big environmental organizations have considerable experience in writing legislation and calculating impacts, but actually implementing their ideas – well, they haven’t had the chance. But we have, through our campaigns to make our colleges and universities carbon-neutral and foster a clean energy economy.

What have we learned? Well, I am only going to scratch the surface here and I want you to contribute your ideas – but there are a few that I think are particularly valuable.

Be the Solution: Like governments, universities have competing priorities. Instead of being a competing ‘interest’, many student groups focused on using climate solutions to impact other problems, such as rising energy costs, health care, and tuition. This builds a broad coalition and makes efforts welcomed by administrations, not fought as an burden.

Investment is Magic: If you know how to speak the language of investment, you can work wonders. Bury the word ‘payback’ in the deepest pit available, start using ‘Return on Investment’, ‘roll-over’, and ‘contained energy costs’ and startle your Treasurer. We all know that a 3% investment in green building can change everything, but they often don’t. Conservation is money in the bank for renewable energy, zero-waste, etc. Show them the money!

Think Big, Win Big: We all have heard the voice saying, “Shouldn’t we try and go for something easier or smaller?” Well, yes but only as part of something bigger and faster. When you start thinking about carbon neutrality, you rethink your heating plant and electricity, buildings, and fuels. To achieve a small goal, you get stuck trying to get people to turn out lights and replace their lightbulbs. Most ‘Breakthroughs’ are in your thinking, not necessarily in the technology.

Got some more? Write a comment!

3 Responses to “What Would Our Climate Policy Look Like?”


  1. 1 R Margolis Oct 31st, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    A good list. I would only add that any discussion on return on investment should include a comparison showing that it is favorable versus other investments (i.e., the company in question will more money with that particular energy saving as they would a competing proposal). If they see competitive advantage, they will make the investment.

  2. 2 Teryn Norris Oct 31st, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    “Investment” and “Thought breakthroughs” — nice Richard!

    Hope to see you at the reception on Saturday.

  3. 3 lizveazey Nov 2nd, 2007 at 10:33 am

    I think it’s really important to emphasize: “No Coal” not “no new coal plants until they can safely dispose of climate pollution” disposing of climate pollution is a costly and unproven technology and it makes no sense to even consider it when the entire cycle of coal is so dirty. And, means that all of our friends and allies fighting coal mining are left out of the 1 Sky initiative, which is a huge loss of a major ally. And, all of our resources should be invested in renewable energy and efficiency and we should not be wasting our time trying to make really dirty energy a little cleaner. It’s also important to note that at Power Shift we will be lobbying around these asks except we changed “no new coal plants until they can safely dispose of climate pollution” to “No Coal”

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About Richard


Richard, VP, Business Development for Ethical Electric is a veteran of online organizing and online media, clean energy entrepreneurship, and mission-related investing. The founder of Fired Up Media and Editor of It's Getting Hot in Here, he served as VP of Project Finance for Solar Mosaic, the Online Organizer for the Webby-nominated, 17 million person TckTckTck campaign and as an angel investor in and board member to startups, such as Skyline Innovations, Faraday Bicycles, and SumofUs.org. He graduated from the Center for Progressive Leadership's Executive Fellowship and the NextGen Fellowship in Mission Related Investing, as well as Macalester College, where he developed the first student-led Clean Energy Revolving Fund. He also has been known to collect and use cooking equipment from around the world and might just make you something, if you ask nicely.

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