The Greenwash Brigade

On green one-upmanship at the DNC and RNC

Jim Nicolow Aug 27, 2008

Both the Democrats and Republicans appear to be scrambling in a game of one-upmanship to host “the greenest national convention ever.” While that’s commendable, I’m a heck of a lot more interested in seeing some thoughtful green policies.

The green building movement really led the charge in greening conferences, but it was dictated by the conference content. Organizations like the American Solar Energy Society, the U.S. Green Building Council, and Southface Energy Institute have been challenging conference venues to green their operations for years, even choosing cities based on their green initiatives.

With the political parties, the lion’s share of their environmental footprint is their policies, not the food they serve at these once-every-four-years events. When I see the RNC providing bicycles to conference attendees while promoting ‘clean coal’ (brought to you by the manufacturers of ‘jumbo shrimp’) and expanded drilling, I call it greenwash. It’s like the GMC Suburban-driving shopper with re-usable grocery bags. Nice gesture, but the Suburban’s the elephant in the room (so to speak).

Thankfully, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer’s speech last night to the DNC assuaged my cynicism slightly:

“…we face a great new challenge, a world energy crisis that threatens our economy, our security, our climate and our way of life. … America consumes 25 percent of the world’s oil, but has less than 3 percent of the reserves. You don’t need a $2 calculator to figure that one out. There just isn’t enough oil in America, on land or offshore, to meet America’s full energy needs. … Invest $150 billion over the next 10 years in clean, renewable energy technology. This will create up to 5 million new, green jobs and fuel long-term growth and prosperity.”

Let’s see some green policy one-upmanship!

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