President's Council On Sustainable Development
Atlanta November 20, 1997
The President's Council on Sustainable Development final meeting of 1997 was convened on November 20 at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. The meeting began with a report from representatives from breakout groups established as part of the Community Forum on Quality of Life and Climate Change. This Forum brought together over 200 people from the Atlanta community to explore connections between their quality of life concerns and climate change. The Forum was organized and sponsored by PCSD in conjunction with several regional non-governmental organizations and was conducted on November 19th. The findings and results the breakout group sessions of the Community Forum are provided below.
Immediately following the report on the
Community Forum, the Council heard several presentations on technology
and climate change, sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and technological
feasibility. Additionally, experts from the four primary energy consuming
sectors (buildings, transportation, industry, and power
discussed specific recommendations for technological approaches to climate
change within those sectors. A summary of these presentations is provided
Council Co-Chairs Jonathan Lash and Ray Anderson welcomed the Council Members and public and facilitated introductions. Mr. Lash discussed the Council rationale for holding its meeting in Atlanta and noted the importance of getting outside of Washington D.C. to listen, learn, gather and exchange ideas, seek participation, and to encourage discussion, debate, and creative problem solving in the communities that the Council visits. He also thanked the various people involved in making the meeting a success.
Ray Anderson discussed the Council's focused
for this meeting is global climate change. He stated the Council hopes
to increase public awareness of the issue that is of monumental importance
to the world and the human race. Mr. Anderson noted that the Council hopes
to establish local connections and make the climate change issue real for
the people of the Atlanta region. Mr. Anderson also thanked the many
of the event.
The Community Forum was organized in conjunction with Atlanta Regional Commission, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Emory University Center for Ethics, Fulton County Commissioner's Office, Georgia Institute of Technology, The Georgia Conservancy, Interface, The Natural Step-Atlanta, Southface Energy Institute, and the Turner Foundation. The forum was held during the evening proceeding the Council Meeting.
The forum consisted of two parts: speaker presentations on the science, impacts, economics and technology of climate change; and the sources of greenhouse gases and community Discussion Groups examining quality of life issues and their relationship to climate change. The purpose of the Forum was to make climate change real to the people in the Atlanta community; connect current quality of life concerns to climate change issues; and to explore connections between solutions to quality of life concerns and climate concerns.
Over 200 people from the Atlanta community participated in four breakout groups: Learning and Information, Work Life and Economy, Outdoors and Recreation, Home and Family Life. The breakout groups focused on three questions: (1) What are the most important quality of life issues affecting the Atlanta region? (2) Are any related to climate change? If so, which ones and how are they related? (3) Can solutions be devised that solve multiple quality of life problems and address climate change at the same time?
Overall, the community break-out sessions went well. There was much to talk about and it was clear that the two hours allotted was not enough. A longer time period devoted to the discussions would have taken the groups further. In the future, such an exercise would be more useful in a half or full day exercise.
Initially, drawing linkages to climate change was a bit challenging, but as the groups got going it became easier to see the linkages between the issues they identified and climate change. As they began to see the interrelationships among their issues of concern and climate change, it became easier to come up with solutions that would solve several quality of life issues and climate change simultaneously.
In answering the first question, "What are the most important quality of life issues facing you today," common issues surfaced from all four groups, despite the different categories. The following issues were mentioned as of primary concern in at least two groups: land use, urban sprawl, availability and access to jobs, preservation of open space, traffic congestion, lack of transportation alternatives, air quality, need for urban revitalization.
An example of linkages participants recognized between quality of life issues and climate change is the connection of urban sprawl to climate change to loss of carbon sequestration ability as result of the loss of green space, and that sprawl necessitates increase emissions from increased vehicle travel.
An example of a solution participants
which would solve multiple problems was improving the quality and safety
of urban schools to eliminate one of the driving forces for sprawl as
often move to the suburbs in search of safer and better schools.
Dennis Creech, Executive Director of
Energy Institute, made the presentation for the Home and Family Life Breakout
Group. This group focused on "values." Specifically, the group looked at
how changing of the values of everyday life would impact climate
Main themes emerging from discussion:
Quality of life issues of concern or importance identified by the group:
Jackie Ward, Southern Organizing Committee for Economic and Social Justice, reported the findings of the Outdoors and Recreation Group. General themes addressed by the groups included: land use policy, citizen participation and political will. The quality of life issues identified by this group included:
Additionally, the group identified the following additional problems:
Gail Marshall of the Douglas County Public School System, reported the findings of the Learning and Information Group. This session looked at educational pieces as underpinning and possibly being some of the barriers to see how there could be an integration with climate change. This group divided their learning and information concerns into four major sections: (1) The term "education" must be expanded to address all types and ages of individuals in society; (2) Educational efforts need to relate to real world problems and issues; (3) The costs of education; and (4) Ecological literacy and social issues
The group felt that progress ultimately comes down to the individual level. The individual has to realize that they are connected to the whole picture and that the decisions they make do make a difference. People need to know that climate change is not someone else's problem, but everyone's. Specific solutions developed by this group include:
Helen Tapp, Executive Director of the Atlanta Regional Business Coalition made the presentation for the Work Life and Economy Breakout Group. This group was the largest of all groups with over 50 participants. This group felt strongly about the need to rethink the way land is used, the way people move around, the way individuals and communities make decisions, and how to balance and broaden community goals with individual choices.
The most important issues to the participants were: land use and development patterns, availability and access to jobs, lack of public funding for alternative transportation modes, urban sprawl, preservation of open green space, trees, and urban aesthetics, and government fragmentation. Recommendations developed by the group include:
In his presentation about sources of
gas emissions, Dr. Cory Berish said in order to achieve global consensus
on climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced efficiently
across the globe. Emission reduction solutions require tracking emission
outputs by sector and location. Dr. Berish presented information on emissions
growth and sources in the region. The Southeast region's energy consumption
growth was 23%, higher than the average for the United States, 14.7%.
emissions come primarily from industrial sources (36%) and transportation
(28%) [residential (21%) and commercial sources (15%)]. He presented the
five industries which emit the most and where they were located in the
region, and also noted that methane emissions from livestock were another
source of emissions. Total vehicle miles traveled is increasing in the
US, (41%) and even more so in the region (47%). To determine how to achieve
the "biggest bang for your buck," Dr. Berish felt that the main agenda
for local or global emission reduction programs should be based upon what
makes sense, given a variety of considerations, and what is cost effective.
His main concern is not the quantity of emissions, but what can be done
to reduce emissions that makes sense and puts money back into the
Dr. Lovins, climate and efficiency efforts are a good business opportunity where people make money by using energy in a way that saves money. Dr. Lovins believes the greatest opportunities may lie in less conventional technical opportunities. These methods often work better and cost less. Furthermore, he feels efficiency is an expanding resource. When moving towards efficiency, the process occurs in several steps. The initial level of efficiency may be achieved fairly easily at low cost. Achieving the second level requires more effort and comes at a greater cost. The results of the extra efforts in the end produce greater savings. Dr. Lovins felt efficiency optimizations that work on the whole system are the most beneficial and often produce a better final product.
At the end of Dr. Lovins' presentation,
he answered questions regarding battery and auto industry technologies
and the relationship between material flows and location methods. He also
clarified the message people should receive and what recommendations people
could act upon in terms of energy efficiency.
In his presentation on power generation and utilities, Kent Fickett said that the challenge is to rebuild the entire industry from the light bulb to the power plant. Today, the cost of renewable energy is declining, but the cost is still above current methods. Despite initial costs, Mr. Fickett believes that new technology may reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90%. Greenhouse gas emission reductions call for the creation of win/win situations, market-based incentives, paying the real price of power, and for research and development. Rebuilding the industry calls for overcoming the barriers of converting old capital to cleaner, more efficient new capital stock.
After his presentation, Mr. Fickett answered
questions regarding the correlation between climate change, air quality,
new fuels, and NOx emissions. He also gave suggestions on what to do with
an old inefficient coal-fire-powerplants such as reducing NOx, SOx, heavy
metals, and toxins at the back end of the process.
In her presentation on the development of energy efficient or "green buildings," Susan Maxman presented several obstacles that need to be overcome. She first called for the re-education of city-planning commissioners to impress upon them that single zoning is no longer relevant, that urban sprawl needs to stop, and that farmland needs to be preserved. Second, she felt that the cost of new infrastructure and roads must be included in the price of a new building when comparing the cost to remodeling existing buildings. Additionally, Ms. Maxman said the education of architects needs revision so that they understand that in addition to style their buildings must be designed to maximize energy efficiency and respond to climate considerations. New designs may take advantage of daylight and building siting which generate other benefits such as production improvements and a nicer atmosphere. She believes that energy efficient buildings become a possibility as people accept new ideas and learn about energy efficient practices.
After her presentation, Susan Maxman
the issue of property contamination and land re-use. She also responded
to the statements concerning brownfields and reinvesting capital and
budgets of buildings to enable spending in efficiency improvements.
Dr. Sperling believes that the potential
for energy savings through innovation in the transportation sector is
Over the years there have been dramatic improvements in vehicle fuel
but the efficiency improvements have not produced net energy savings because
new vehicles are heavier, larger, and more powerful. As a result, Dr.
said that the current market will continue to lead to the greater use of
these large vehicles if the government does not get involved and provide
incentives. To develop real efficiency savings, he said strong government
research and development focusing on long term technology is a must. He
also called for encouraging diversity and experimentation, determining
how people will respond to new methods and vehicle types, allowing trading
of fuel economy credits, creating government initiative and leadership,
and assisting with rapidly industrializing countries to create energy savings
in the transportation industry. Finally Dr. Sperling believes, to capture
the potential in the transportation sector, policy strategies require
experimentation, and the harnessing of market forces.
According to Bob Purcell, bringing new technology to the marketplace is not a casual undertaking. When looking at new products, business calls for technical feasibility and for commercial viability. Once business accepts a product, Mr. Purcell believes that product promotion requires seeing your business the way the customer and the investor sees it and then getting the cost of the product down as a function of design and volume.
Looking at the transportation industry,
Mr. Purcell stated three basic development paths for new technology exist:
advanced combustion, advanced electric drive, and light weight components
and structures. He also said that General Motors already has battery powered
electric vehicles which are available to test-drive outside the meeting
hall. They are the EV1, an electric vehicle designed for the personal use
market, and the S10 electric pickup truck designed for the fleet
7. Question and Answer Session for Bob
Purcell and Dan Sperling
After their presentations, Mr. Purcell
and Dr. Sperling responded to comments stating that policy needs to allow
the business community to be creative with technology and that solutions
need to be system based. They also responded to questions regarding the
need to reach the root of the problems rather than just more efficient
cars, accelerated scrappage rebates, and how the automobile industry will
do its share to reduce to 1990 emission levels in 2010.
Dr. Elliot explained how industry consumes
energy but produces products that allow people to make changes in the global
climate strategy. He said that energy efficiency is about making money
and most of the energy used in industry is from the process of making
Consequently he feels that working on small scale items is not going to
be beneficial, but the key is working on technologies centered around the
production process. The large scale efficiency efforts will maximize benefits
to the company and to the economy while improving profits. Dr. Elliot said
to make technology feasible for industry, policy should encourage innovation,
research, and development; promote technology education in the workplace;
and give industry the opportunity to make it easier to do the right
In his presentation, Mr. Buzzelli said
the proper response to climate change issues is to stimulate new technology
and innovation. People need to be given alternatives and methods to become
efficient instead of a guilty conscience. Economics plays an important
role in this task. Mr. Buzzelli believes that government funding at the
fundamental science level may push some innovation because it is hard to
get industry behind a target with little scientific backing. Furthermore,
innovation needs to come from the people, but the average person is not
fully educated about climate change. He believes to effectively respond
to climate change, conversation and debate needs to take place which will
spur people to think and to act.
10. Question, Comment, and Answer Session
with Dave Buzzelli and Neal Elliot
After their presentations, Mr. Buzzelli
and Mr. Elliot responded to questions regarding business motivation for
new market opportunities, the financial service industry, and joint
between large manufacturers and their networks.
Remarks by Katie McGinty, Council
on Environmental Quality
Ms. McGinty stated that the Council on
Environmental Quality's work is moving forward with new and promising avenues
including the brownfield initiatives, the American Heritage Rivers
and initiatives to re-invent our understanding of our forest resources.
She said that the Council of Environmental Quality invites strong
from the President's Council on Sustainable Development in helping to design
a tax technology incentive package to further its work on improving the
environment and the economy simultaneously.