President Obama tried out a bit of political jiu jitsu last Friday, reframing the climate change debate from “green” to “competitive.”
In his MIT speech the President talked less about polar bears and more about markets such as lighting, solar panels, batteries and turbines, markets that can be retaken with the right incentives.
Don’t say green, say competitive.
Speaking this language is essential because former Bush DoE official Karen Harbert, now heading the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Energy Institute, continues pushing climate change as a business vs. government divide when it is increasingly a battle between industries.
As a result buyers and sellers in the “new energy” space have been leaving the chamber, including Apple, PG&E, and Exelon. That’s the background of last week’s hoax by the Yes Men, leading to a new focus on how big the chamber really is.
The chamber remains powerful. It has spend $26 million on lobbying this year, but Harbert’s Institute for 21st Century Energy is listed as having spent nothing. So far.
If this has become a good cop, bad cop act the President is trying to be the good cop. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is the bad cop, saying “it’s wonderful” that companies are leaving the Chamber.
Much as conservatives tried to replace liberal-leaning organizations with more pliable groups over the last 8 years, the Obama Administration is trying focus on groups like the Council on Competitiveness, which has published a white paper supporting more incentives for new industries and fewer for old ones.