Muckraker: Grist on Politics

The purpose of the Clinton Global Initiative is to bring together some of the folks working on specific global challenges, people who can support their good ideas, and those who would benefit from the solutions. These people get together, discuss, collaborate, and in some cases announce major initiatives that have come out of these partnerships. With “Energy & Climate” as one of the four focuses of this year’s gathering, there have been a number of public and private sessions on the issue, bringing together some really interesting groups.

Here’s the panel from this morning’s “Integrated Solutions: Water, Food, and Energy” session: Oil-baron-turned-wind-tycoon T. Boone Pickens, World Bank president Robert Zoellick, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Danish Social Democratic Party leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and Israel President Shimon Peres. Another panel today featured former EPA head Carol Browner, Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark, and Earth Policy Institute President Lester Brown, as well as remarks from Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

An interesting group, to say the least.

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In the second panel, the speakers talked at length about the relationship between the financial crisis and the energy crisis. “If we’re going to spend a trillion dollars bailing out the financial sector, why can’t we spent one trillion dollars on renewables?” asked Browner.

In other green CGI news, Walmart and the Environmental Defense Fund just announced an initiative to reduce plastic bag waste one third by 2013, by encouraging the use of reusable bags. The company estimates that a one-third reduction would take 9.5 billion plastic shopping bags out of waste stream and eliminate 290,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year … taking 50,000 vehicles off the road. They’ll be making low-cost, reuseable bags available in every country where the company operates.

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Also announced were outreach efforts to help educate young adults, unions, and African American communities about climate change. The Energy Action Coalition’s Jessy Tolkan and Billy Parish will be working to educate college students and other young adults through their Power Vote campaign and the second annual Power Shift conference.

League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski announced that his group will be leading an outreach campaign to labor unions. Ralph Everett of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies will be leading the effort to get more African Americans involved in the climate movement civil rights groups and churches.