A sustainability expert has criticised Tony Abbott’s approach to climate change. Photo: Andrew MearesHe’s a self-confessed “hardcore capitalist”, a one-time lawyer and real estate agent who now leads one of the world’s most successful sustainability agencies.
Jim Waring, co-founder of the pioneering Cleantech San Diego, was in town this week as a guest of Brisbane’s own sustainability agency CitySmart, spreading the message that environmental sensitivity is no longer the domain of the alternative left but a key economic driver.
In an address to members of the CitySmart Leaders Project at City Hall on Thursday, the enviro-businessman who seven years ago instigated a clean tech Californian micro-economy that now has 800 businesses signed up, also had a message for Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott following this year’s repeal of the carbon tax.
“Instead of talking about the carbon tax in terms of economics, in Australia the Prime Minister decided to justify it by his denial of climate change and that sort of made it not serious in the world,” he said.
“Because the world is going that way, by and large, a very legitimate issue got lost.
“Hopefully the dialogue will merge away from climate change and more toward macro-economics.”
Mr Waring co-founded Cleantech in 2007 as a means of facilitating more sustainable energy use in government, business, industry and academia.
Sustainable business practices, he said, are now a necessity and those who fail to adopt them risk severe economic repercussions over the next 20 years.
“(Cleantech) was founded seven years ago under the premise in the coming decades, one of the primary economic drivers in the world is going to be sustainability,” he said.
“When you look at the pressures of population growth and absorption of resources there is clearly a need to do more with less.
“We believe that cities around the world have had that opportunity to declare sustainable business practices will be the ones that grow in the future.”
Among the 800 businesses his company has signed up to more efficient energy use in San Diego include traditional power-guzzling giants, such as the airport, the port authority and the US Navy.
He said even some of the United States’ most recognisable institutions were quickly realising the far-reaching consequences of climate change.
“There is so much politics around this issue and one of the main drivers of this discussion in the US is the Pentagon,” he said.
“The Pentagon realises that climate change and the impact of climate change on the world is a security risk and they are incredibly engaged in reducing their footprint.”
Like Cleantech San Diego, CitySmart was established by Brisbane City Council as a facilitative agency to help business and government to reduce their carbon footprint.
One of its landmark projects has been the recent announcement of a central cooling system for the Brisbane CBD, which will help businesses reduce their energy costs by up to 30 per cent.
Mr Waring said such agencies were integral to the continuity of an environmentally-sustainable economy.
“Political systems are not designed, and you can’t expect them to be designed, to function and deal with multi-decade problems,” he said.
‘The things we are talking about today are going to take decades to play out.
“If you don’t have someone like CitySmart to keep the process moving, no matter how well intended you might be, how a good a project might be, it will come to a stop.”
Among the major initiatives implemented by Cleantech San Diego in its seven years has been the establishment of a micro-grid energy system at the University of California’s San Diego campus, where 85 per cent of electricity consumed on campus is generated by the micro-grid.
Renewable energy, electric vehicle delivery and a large-scale 80,000 energy efficiency street light replacement project are also among its achievements driving business in California.
“There has been a lot of controversy over renewable energy but it’s a major economic driver in our state,” he said.
“Though over 800 companies and over 47,00 jobs, we were able to show what could be done and elevate the community.
“Another area where there’s been a great deal of leadership has been electric vehicles.
“There are over 100,000 electric vehicles in California.
“The fact is the urban environment, such as in Brisbane, there this no reason why the second car in each home can’t be an electric vehicle.”
Despite its vast array of projects achieving energy saving success, Mr Waring said the key to the success of the environmentally sustainable economy remained proving its economic worth to businesses.
“We want to prove there is economics in this, if you have a good idea you can find the money but you don’t lead with the money,” he said.
“Everything is voluntary, none of it mandated by government, so we’re using private sector rationale to reduce costs and make thing more efficient to engage business.
“Technologies are way ahead of behaviours. Government has a role in precise stimulus programs for technologies before they become mainstream.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.