By Lilia Diaz

When hundreds of private investors came together at the 2010 Investor Summit on Climate Risk (INCR) in New York this past January, they weren’t there to debate the existence of global climate change or humans’ role in causing it.

They were there to talk about how to address the negative environmental impacts of the current climate crisis, while at the same time turning it into an opportunity for creating jobs and making money.

The private investors who belong to the INCR are increasingly embracing a reality that seems to elude Washington D.C. – investing in renewable and clean energy industries is the next crucial step towards digging ourselves out of this economic abyss and building a sustainable world economy.

The “2010 Investor Statement on Catalyzing Investment in a Low-Carbon Economy” demonstrates that what these investors are demanding is nothing short of bold leadership and clear policy decisions which pave the way for their investment in these industries.

Washington’s inexplicable failure to act on this issue by enacting comprehensive climate change legislation has placed New Mexico in the position of needing to advocate for itself. If New Mexico doesn’t take proactive steps to address the statewide spectre of carbon emissions now, then we run the risk of missing out on millions of investment dollars which could flow into our struggling economy. Other governments around the world are jockeying to take advantage of these opportunities, so New Mexico must act quickly to establish itself as a leader in the clean, renewable energy market.

Predictably, the measures needed to address climate change and jump-start economic revival have met fierce resistance from the oil, gas, and coal industries, and their army of lobbyists who have resorted to fear tactics to mislead and confuse consumers.

A local energy industry spokesperson and other opponents testified against New Energy Economy’s (NEE) petition to cap greenhouse gases at the August 16th Environmental Improvement Board hearing in Santa Fe. They issued dire warnings that NEE’s proposal will cost too much to implement and will lose the state money. No statement could be more disingenuous.

Contrast the industry’s alarmist arguments with the fact-based assessment of Brendan McDonagh, CEO of HSBC-North American Holdings, Inc. McDonagh reported that the climate business sector now generates annual global revenues in excess of $500 billion, which is already larger than the global aerospace and defense industries. Moreover, these revenues are expected to rise to $2 trillion by 2020.

Now that’s the kind of “green” that should be going into the pockets of consumers and businesses in New Mexico.

New Mexico must pave the way for companies who want to invest in renewable energy and who want to do it here. Our state ranks 2nd in the nation for solar potential, 12th for wind potential, and boasts vast untapped geothermal and biomass resources. With all of this raw potential, we could lead the nation in clean, affordable, renewable energy production.

Capping carbon will benefit New Mexico by expanding and diversifying our energy resources. Sandia National Labs recently released a report which estimates that the cost of inaction will be much higher than that of implementing carbon cap measures.

Study co-author George Backus, an energy engineer and technical expert at Sandia, says the take-away is that “the uncertainty associated with climate change validates the need to act protectively and proactively.”

Regulation is a policy signal, which acts as an economic stimulus by spurring investment, research and development in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Mindy Lubber, President of Ceres and Director of INCR (the group has more than 90 members and $13 trillion in assets), highlighted that the financial industry has a huge role to play in closing the climate investment gap, and that there is a great need for policy change beyond financing the transition to a low-carbon economy.

NEE’s petition has rallied strong support from the business community and advocacy organizations around the state, many who are co-petitioners, and offered compelling testimony at the August 16th hearings. The New Mexico Pediatric Society, League of Women Voters NM, Amigos Bravos, Positive Energy, San Juan Citizen’s Alliance, and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, to name a few, demonstrate the broad range of organizations that support a carbon cap as part of what is nothing less than an energy paradigm shift.

According to the world’s top investors, the switch to a clean energy economy is not a matter of if, but when.
Diaz is the education and outreach director for New Energy Economy. The hearings resumed on October 4th in Santa Fe. The 2010 Summit Final Report can be found at and the Sandia report at
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