Shifting Gears

Our friend Tom Friedman struck again this weekend, penning a thoughtful column in Sunday's NYT.

In it, he talks about the remarkable greening of the huge taxi fleet in NYC, driven by city officials. One of the advocates for new policy quoted by Tom is Jack Hidary, who has set up an organization which advocates for the greening of fleets.  Jack is also a fellow member of the Set America Free coalition.

I will meet him in person for the first time at the upcoming PowerShift conference at the University of Maryland in College Park, where we'll be on a panel together discussing transportation and climate issues.

But that's not the main point of Tom's column. He tells this story to llustrate the importance of public policy, and of the leaders who make policy. Given the scale of the climate challenge, shifts in personal behavior -- while all well and good -- are necessary but insufficient steps to meet it head-on. As Tom sums up:

Why? Because leaders write the rules, set the standards and offer the tax incentives that drive market behavior across a whole city, state or country. Whatever any of us does individually matters a tiny bit. But when leaders change the rules, you get scale change across the whole marketplace. And the energy-climate challenge we face today is a huge scale problem. Without scale, all you have is a green hobby.

Tom's right, and I hope it spurs readers to press their -- and remember, these people work for us -- public officials to reform harmful policies and adopt helpful ones!