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Republicans Sit Out Policy Meeting On Clean Tech, the Economy and Climate Change


Force Change
January 8, 2009


California Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public
Works Committee had NYT columnist Tom Friedman and Silicon Valley venture
capitalist John Doerr speak with that committee on Wednesday. The two gentlemen
warned the Senators that the U.S. risked falling even further behind the world
in green technology if Congress failed to act. However, the message was lost on
the Republican contingent of the committee which did not attend, as it was not a
formal hearing.

Nonetheless, Doerr and Friedman both encouraged the Democrats in attendance to
adopt a cap-and-trade system or carbon tax, as the best means of promoting what
Friedman regularly calls “ET” (Environmental Technology).

Doerr, who is a partner at VC giant Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, warned
that of the top 30 companies in solar, wind, and advanced battery technologies
in the world today, only six of them are U.S. firms.

Both gentlemen urged that a predictable price tag be put on greenhouse gases in
order to encourage the massive investment and innovation necessary to make the
American economy competitive in coming years.

Friedman pointed out that while around $5 billion was invested in green tech
projects in the U.S. last year, this paled in comparison to the $80 billion that
was invested during the height of the information technology boom. He added,
“We can only innovate our way out of this problem by shaping the marketplace
with the right rules, incentives and price signals to stimulate the kind of
innovation we need - which is 10,000 innovators in 10,000 garages trying 10,000 things.”

“It is the mother of all markets - perhaps the largest economic opportunity of
the 21st century.” Doerr said.

Too bad only half of this key Senate committee was in attendance to hear this
important message.

 

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