Verdexchange Conference

I attended and spoke at the Los Angeles VerdeXchange Conference on January 25. Of all the environmental conferences I’ve attended over the years, none rivals this one for its consistently high quality speakers and participants, the care given to the selection of subject matter, and the depth and breadth of its vision. A partial list of speakers included the global architect, Frank Gehry, John Chiang, California’s State Treasurer, Kazuo Furakawa, Chair of NEDO (the Department of Energy of Japan), Mary Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resource Board, Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles. Behind this lineup were dozens of other speakers and panelists who are all at the top of their game.

The list of topics included “Financing the Green Economy”, “Will the Future Look Like the Past”, “Is There a California Consensus on Fracking”, “Revolutionizing How Homeowners Adopt Efficient Home Energy Products”, “California’s New Storage Roadmap”, “NexGen Passenger Cars: Will They Be Zero Emitting?”, “California Resets Climate Change Policy”, “Designing for Density” and “Reimagining LA’s Waterway”.

Here are some of the highlights of the Verdexchange conference from my perspective:

  • California’s move to support “green bonds” to help finance a green California economy.
  • Customer convenience and aesthetics are at the heart of the conversion to a green consumer economy.
  • In spite of political intransigence from the Republican side, carbon trading is coming. More than 150 global companies, many here in the U.S. are putting carbon pricing in their bids.
  • The U.S. military in on board with the climate change imperatives and is shifting its fuel dependence in the direction of biofuels.
  • What’s moving people to green is global urbanization with its attendant massive pollution, falling prices for wind, solar and LED lighting, and the Millennials’ shift away from buying bigger and creating a much smaller carbon footprint in many facets of their lives. The Millenial consumer change is a meta-disruptive factor in the world economy.
  • A revolution is coming in how water is managed, including a big move to recycle most of what we use.

I’ll end this missive with a summary of Kazuo Furakawa’s assessment of Japan’s contribution to the emergence of a green economy.

  • Over 50 years Japan’s high speed train technology has evolved to create the fastest, safest and most carbon reducing transportation infrastructure system in the world.
  • It’s leading the lithium battery revolution powering, among other technologies, the Tesla car.
  • It will be the first country in the world to introduce this year a fuel cell car, the Mirai which means the future.
  • Japan is leading the world in home energy storage systems.
  • Japan led the way with its Honda engines in meeting Calilfornia’s world leading air emissions reductions.
  • California and Japan can work together to be a model for the world in forging a green economy.

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