As I circulated among the seminars and talked to the people at the conference, I got a very clear understanding of how far we are from grasping the scope of the change that needs to be made. At this symposium, I found just what I expected, many of the people on the front lines of energy policy change and renewable generation had a clear understanding of just how much has to happen in a small amount of time.
Unfortunately, the political folks had not an inkling of understanding. I will site two examples and you judge for yourself:
At a symposium where an Assistant Secretary of DOE gave a presentation, he discussed the much needed work to be done on existing buildings in the area of energy retrofits. This is a huge potential for carbon reduction that is easily achievable and compared to other carbon reduction strategies, relatively inexpensive. After the presentation during the question and answer portion I asked if we could get Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make it mandatory that any home purchased using their funds (which is the majority of all homes sold in the US) have an energy audit done. We could get folks used to doing them and use this to quantify the homes energy footprint in an eye towards making energy upgrades mandatory with the sale of homes. This is a program that is not pie in the sky, rather it is currently being done in the UK. The answer was depressing a generic, "we are looking into many ways of encouraging energy audits". To me this was the failure to recognize two facts, first is that the US taxpayer now runs Fannie and Freddie (for all intents and purposes) and secondly it would take no political maneuvering, as Fannie and Freddie can impose that type of requirement at will.