Last week I blogged about two major announcements in the U.S.related to Climate Change. I suggested that Todd Stern, the powerful U.S.Special Envoy for Climate Change holds all the cards on Climate Change and that we should "stay tuned". Well, Mr. Stern is playing his hand even faster than we thought!
Today President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the U.S. Energy Department set new energy efficiency standards for a broad range of common household appliances. These new energy-saving standards are expected to save the American economy "hundreds of billions of dollars in electrical costs and reduce power plant emissions". This Presidential memorandum brings the climate change game from the theoretical to the bureaucratic to industry to the ordinary retail American in one hand.
Why? Because the standards, which must be implemented by August and affect everything from microwaves to dishwashers to lamps and ranges, are going to impact the ordinary retail American"s shopping experience at Costco, Target and Wal Mart. This summer when Mr. and Mrs. America goes to buy a new air-conditioner, their new energy efficient model will be representative of the impact climate change is having at all levels of the economy.
Why does this announcement point to Mr. Stern? Mr. Stern has been expounding on the importance of efficiency and conservation for years. Energy efficiency and energy conservation are two related, though slightly different, concepts affecting climate change. (Energy efficiency refers to doing more with the same amount of energy. Energy conservation means reducing the amount of energy you use). Stern has talked about it in the context of reducing vehicle emissions (Obama Presidential Memo issued? - check); he has talked about it in the context of making appliances more efficient (Obama Presidential Memo issued?- check); and Stern has talked about making buildings more efficient. Obviously Mr. Stern's influence is at work here. What card will Mr. Stern play next? Is the next green card a major tweaking of building code standards?.
U.S. industry is going to have to scramble to make their products meet the new standard and have them on the shelf for Mr. and Mrs. America's purchase very quickly. Can international competitors mobilize as quickly? Is there a modicum of U.S. protectionism here?
What about we Canadians? Do we have a green card or do we need a Green Card?