Muckraker: Grist on Politics

The fourth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative kicked off today, bringing together heads of state, business leaders, and representatives from non-governmental organizations in New York City to discuss major initiatives to address the world’s challenges. “Energy & Climate Change” are among the four commitment areas the conference is focused on this year, and former President Bill Clinton began the day by announcing several new commitments in that area.

AREVA and Duke Energy announced that they are making a commitment to to construct 10-12 wood biomass plants by 2014. Each plant will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 400,000 tons each year, and the commitment will prevent 4 million tons of CO2 emissions overall each year and create hundreds of new green-collar jobs, said Clinton.

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The Nike Foundation, the World Bank, and the government of Liberia also announced a three-year, $5 million initiative to educate 1,500 young girls in the country. Clinton noted that this project is also an effort to address both poverty and climate change. Scientists say that global emissions need to be reduced 80 percent by 2050, said Clinton, and during the same period, the world population is expected to grow from 6.5 to 9 million. It would be difficult to reduce emissions to that extent if population growth is not slowed, said Clinton. “The only thing that slows population growth … [is to] put every young girl in school,” said Clinton.

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Later in the day, India’s Suzlon Green Power Ltd. announced that they are making a $5 billion investment in green energy over five years. The company pledged to generate 3,500 megawatts of green electricity, which will serve 10 million people in India and China.

The investment was announced by Tulsi R. Tanti, founder of the wind-turbine company, Suzlon. Their new Suzlon Green Power venture marks an expansion of their business, noting the increased need as the economies and energy use of India and China expand. “If it is not established in a sustainable way, then it is a big disaster for the world,” said Tanti.