Why Dirty Fuel Companies Should be Worrying

Almost every day now, a major media outlet carries a story about the dangers to alternative energy development because of the economic crisis rippling across the world. What you aren't reading much of anything about in the mainstream media today is the fact that the people who really should be worrying today are dirty energy executives and investors.

On Thursday, for example, Consol Energy reported that the credit crunch had caused its main partner on a major coal conversion plant in West Virginia to hit the silk and bail out.  As the Associated Press reported:  "Credit woes have dealt a major setback to Consol Energy's plans for an $800 million plant capable of converting coal into methanol and 100 million gallons of gasoline annually ... Houston-based Synthesis Energy Systems Inc. has allowed its development agreement with Consol to expire, saying it can't secure financing in the current credit market."

It's not just Consol Energy and Synthesis that are on the rocks.  Credit crunch woes are rippling through other coal-fired power and nuclear plants nationwide.  It's enough to make you wonder why the Washington Post is speculating about potential problems for renewable energy when there are unmistakably real problems for coal and nuclear plants that are actually dying on the vine today. The bottom line is that a passing credit crunch and downward dip in energy crisis is not the basis on which decision makers will proceed with clean energy.  A new report from the Asset Management Division of Deutsche Bank (DeAM) released Thursday makes it clear that - credit crunch or no credit crunch - we need to move ahead with clean energy and other climate solutions:

"... the accelerating pace of global warming will force governments to invest more heavily in climate change mitigation and adaptation despite the financial setbacks of the current market crash. 'Investing in Climate Change 2009 -- Necessity and Opportunity in Turbulent Times,' authored by DeAM's Global Climate Change Investment Research team, provides a detailed analytical framework for understanding the opportunities for investing in climate change. But it also says that an economic downturn offers governments across the developed world a prime opportunity to boost their spending on 'green' infrastructure as a stimulus to avoid severe recession.

According to Mark Fulton, DeAM's Global Head of Climate Change Investment Research, "The current crisis is making the necessity of tackling climate change an opportunity to stimulate growth through investment opportunities."

"Encouraging investment in renewable energy is a key focus," Fulton adds. "Energy efficiency technologies are obviously highly desirable in economies facing recession. Infrastructure stimulus can be tied directly to climate-sensitive sectors such as power grids, water, buildings, and public transport, which present a vast field for the creation of new technologies and jobs. Governments have before them a historic opportunity to 'climate proof' their economies' as they upgrade infrastructure as a core response to any economic downturn.' "

 History will likely show that the mainstream media is getting it wrong. We are on the path to the clean energy future.  It is going to be a good thing ... and there's no turning back now.

About the Authors

Peter Lehner

Former Executive Director

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