Over 400 green economy leaders gathered at the EPA Atrium of Washington’s Ronald Reagan Building on Tuesday night to celebrate achievements and forge a path to a post-carbon future and expedite growth of a green economy.. Earth Day Network presented the invitation-only sold-out Climate Leadership Gala in partnership with American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) and the Carbon War Room.
The Gala — which attracted legislators, world leaders, royalty and Hollywood actors in addition to environmental leaders — was the centerpiece of Carbon War Room’s Creating Climate Wealth Summit, a two-day gathering of executives, investors, entrepreneurs and leaders from the private and public sectors. In the US alone, the green economy is valued at $500 billion and it is poised for growth, with between 1.8 million and 2.4 million new green jobs in renewable energy, resource conservation and pollution control. Creating Climate Wealth’s May 2-4 North American Summit worked to identify specific US pathways to accelerate green solutions and fast-track today’s most essential economic opportunities.
Earth Day Network President Kathleen Rogers opened the evening by acknowledging that, “while climate change presents our most pressing challenge, it also presents perhaps the greatest opportunity ever to have presented itself to mankind. Unfortunately,” she continued, “the American people have failed to embrace that message of bounty and opportunity and for every person in this room that failure creates our greatest risk. Our organizations here tonight, and all of you, are natural allies in the global endeavor to change all of this. Together, we are focused on the three elements necessary to build a carbon free future: leadership, investment in renewable energy sources and other technologies, and . . . building a new environmental movement from the ground up. ”
Keynote speaker Governor Bill Richardson related the night to timely news, “My hope is that from this success in the foreign policy arena two days ago [the death of Osama bin Laden], that he [President Obama] will be emboldened to take, once again, to the Congress legislation not just to increase a renewable energy standard, but climate change legislation that this country and the world need.”
Governor Richardson also stressed that “More than anything we need bipartisanship in our foreign policy and in our environmental policy, and…somehow we need to recognize that this is not a partisan issue.”
On behalf of Earth Day Network, Actress Bo Derek presented the WAGE™ 2011 Leadership Award to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Admired for her tenacity under fire and proven perseverance, Ms. Jackson accepted the award, emphasizing “Women have a special role to play….
in taking care of the next generation.” Ms. Jackson continued, saying, “Sometimes we have to remind people why the economy is green. Yes, it will break our dependence on foreign oil. . . But it will also keep us healthy…Tens of thousands of premature deaths avoided every year. Hundreds of thousands of cases of asthma and bronchitis avoided each and every year. Forty dollars of health benefits for every dollar we spend to protect our clean air. It’s really simple folks. It’s good economics and very, very good preventive medicine.”
Retired Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, recently appointed President of ACORE, said, “America’s energy posture is a serious and urgent threat to our national security, economically, diplomatically, and militarily. And those who would wish to do the United States harm for any reason can exploit that vulnerability, which is an overdependence on fossil fuel.” He added, “America can unwrap those challenges and find a beautiful gift which is called opportunity. We can create a much more secure and a much more prosperous nation.”
L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa emphasized the importance of local leadership, ”As the incoming President of the US Conference of Mayors, I really think there’s an opportunity for Mayors to lead the way.”
A stunning performance by the three-time Grammy-Award nominee singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton closed the evening. Introduced by Ed Begley, Jr., the environmentally-active songstress demonstrated her commitment by lending her voice to bring awareness to the issues.
Among the songs she performed, Ms. Carlton performed her latest single, “Carousel,” which is available now on iTunes and will appear on her fourth album, Rabbits On The Run (Razor & Tie) on June 21st.