Friday, December 11, 2009

Breaking the Glass Ceiling in Copenhagen: Will the U.S. Rise To or Fall From the Occasion?

Check out this powerful economic argument for action in Copenhagen, and for the U.S. Senate to pass strong climate change and clean energy legislation.

The bold facing is my own emphasis added:

Internationally, countries are looking to the U.S. for leadership. Investments in the developing world have been carefully eyeing provisions in Waxman-Markey regarding CDM in order to project the opportunity cap-and-trade may bring to their country, and many of these nations have openly claimed they are waiting for the U.S. to lead. Developed nations are also awaiting U.S. leadership, delaying innovation, investment, and regulation for fear of incompatibility with what the U.S. implements.  As a result, global business has been forced into a holding pattern.

And this holding pattern is ready to break. It's been on the verge for some time, as I have seen first-hand in the carbon and energy management space. The calculations have been made and the P&L's have been vetted, but a glass ceiling exists in the marketplace because business throughout the world cannot guarantee alignment with America's policies, regulations, and direction. And without this alignment, innovation is stifled, investment is hedged, and the analysis on "what could be" will continue.

The Obama administration is making some significant attempts to develop a united front among its trading partners prior to its participation in COP15 because it knows how important breaking this glass ceiling can be -- and how dangerous it can be for a nation to allow business to break through it themselves. This can result in entire economic shifts, where businesses move resources and operations to countries that allow them to operate more effectively.

The U.S. has had a long history of capitalizing on markets to attract business and innovation, and COP15 represents another watershed moment in U.S. economic growth where it must seize the moment when it comes to the business of carbon, energy, and climate change.  Conversely, COP15 also represents a significant risk to U.S. economic growth if it does not seize the opportunity because, for the first time, there are serious contenders.

International opportunities have always had a major driver in American business innovation and success. Current market forces in carbon, energy, and climate change, however, present several risks for the U.S. and business if we fail to lead in Copenhagen. If things take too long, the world will look elsewhere for their leaders, and others are emerging as willing candidates for that role, such as China and the EU. The glass ceiling will be broken by other economies and the business opportunities -- and the jobs dependent on them -- will go with them. In this light, the U.S. opportunity in Copenhagen is not only one of promoting business and reducing climate change, it's about economic survival.

So what's at stake at Copenhagen? Leadership. All of the opportunities and risks for the U.S. and its economy rest in this one concept, which is one that could make or break a new U.S. economy and fundamentally shift global economic markets. An economy will eventually emerge as the winner from Copenhagen, and the Obama Administration has the formidable task to break the glass ceiling for business to ensure it is the U.S. that comes out on top.   

Now that's a powerful piece -- I hope it makes it into the hands of all of the U.S. Congress...

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