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ECO:nomics round-up


GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt

I’m not at the ECO:nomics conference, the gathering organized by the Wall Street Journal to provide “a CEO-level view of the rapidly developing relationship between the environment and the bottom line.” But several other bloggers are, so you should check out some of their commentary.

Most of David Roberts’ reporting has focused on the fascinating spectacle of watching GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt spar with ideologues over climate change legislation. Bear in mind that GE is so large that it practically is the economy in microcosm. The company has its hands in every corner of the energy sector, from coal to nuclear to wind to transportation to lighting. For a long time now, GE has been part of a coalition of companies advocating for a cap on U.S. carbon emissions. Immelt understands the science and very badly wants the government to impose some order on the current regulatory chaos.

Also bear in mind that Immelt, in his own words, has “never voted for a Democrat” and is avowedly “not an environmentalist.” If you’re still clinging to the notion that there are two neatly opposed sides in the climate debate, you’ll have a hard time categorizing Immelt.

Now watch as he fends off attacks from the think tankers and editorialists who are still having a hard time letting go:

After Fred Smith from CEI did his rambling rant on how business leaders are “engineering their own demise,” Immelt said: “For some weird, crazy, terrible, horrible reason, I’m going to sell $10b in wind turbines in 2008.”

Or this:

About the [production tax credit for renewable energy], Strassel asked, “how many wind turbines would you have sold this year without government subsidies?” Immelt: “The same number. Just outside the U.S.”

Good stuff. The Wall Street Journal has also been turning in some interesting reports from the conference. This caught my eye:

The conventional wisdom among the boys on the bus — including us — has been that there’s essentially no difference among the three presidential contenders on climate-change policy.

Really? I know I live in a bubble, but…really? This sort of explains a lot, I think.

I also note with some delight that legendary tech investor John Doerr has now turned his attention to hog poop. The new new economy is looking a lot different than anyone would have predicted a few years ago. On a related note, I’ll have a review of Fred Krupp’s new book Earth: The Sequel up in a few days.

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