The Alliance Leadership Council comprises leaders in energy and energy efficiency in the public and private sectors. Council members advise the Alliance on trends, programs and strategic planning.
To our community–The Alliance would not exist without the vision and support of Art Rosenfeld, who passed away last week. Barbara Finamore, Alliance President and Founder of NRDC’s China Program, offers this remembrance.
The Alliance is deeply saddened by the passing of Art Rosenfeld on January 27, 2017 at the age of 90. The New York Times wrote a touching tribute to him and his unsurpassed legacy as the Godfather of Energy Efficiency.
But the Times failed to note what an enormous impact he had around the world, particularly in China. Art was a strong supporter of the Alliance from the very start. He proudly served on our Leadership Council. He traveled to China several times with the Alliance to share his expertise.
Art was absolutely pivotal in bringing energy efficiency to China. Indeed, when former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu gave his first presentation on energy efficiency in China a few years later, most of his slides came from Art! One in particular is quite famous. Art calculated how much power could be saved by energy efficiency in China compared with what would be produced by the Three Gorges Dam. It was nearly identical! Art’s work helped show that energy efficiency was an enormous resource to be harnessed, rather than a burden. He really brought the idea home to people in China.
Yet Art was humble enough to engage and absorb outside ideas and suggestions from China on energy efficiency. On one of his trips to China, when I went to pick him up outside his hotel room, he noted that all the hotel rooms had automatic on/off switches that required key cards to operate. So if you left the room, the lights would turn off. Art remarked he was going to have to get this adopted in California. He was on the California Energy Commission at the time. And he did!
So now when you check in to an American hotel and insert your key to keep the lights on, that is Art’s handiwork in bringing Chinese ingenuity to the United States. Energy efficiency is always a two-way street and we can always learn from one another. Art never forgot that.
I also greatly appreciated that, when we would bring high-level American delegations to China, they would sometimes stay in fancy hotels in Beijing. But Art would always stay with the NRDC staff in lower-priced hotels. He said, “What was good enough for NRDC was good enough for me”.
A couple of years ago, when Fran Schulberg, former Alliance Executive Director, and I went to visit Art at his home, he was very frail and wheelchair bound. We had to wait for him to finish his regular call with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. He was full of ideas and insights until the very end – a tireless champion for a cleaner Earth.
Art Rosenfeld was a giant, representing the very best of science and humanity. And he changed all our lives for the better.
A new report by the Alliance released today, “Cracking the Energy Efficiency Market in China”, illuminates the opportunities and the hurdles to energy efficiency financing in China. We hope it’s a go-to guide for U.S. companies eyeing the Chinese market in energy efficiency. You’ll find original stories about Honeywell’s foray into the financing market and a successful partnership between an American firm and Chinese company. And many resources. Read the report here: Cracking the Energy Efficiency Market in China.
Just when it appeared China’s coal use was declining, a New York Times article yesterday asserted that the country is digging more coal. Which would dig the world into a deeper hole regarding climate change. Discouraging news. But wait. Check out a different perspective from this blog by Greenpeace coal expert, Lauri Myllyvirta. He says China recently and temporarily loosened rules that’s led to a bump in coal production. However, Myllyvirta reports, China’s net annual coal production for 2016 will be “far below” last year’s. China “is in the middle of a messy and complicated transition” regarding coal mining, he says.
Many, many contentious issues divide China and the United States, among them territorial disputes, human rights, and cybersecurity. But there is one hugely important issue where they do agree–fighting climate change. This alliance, forged through great effort under Presidents Obama and Xi Jinping, led the world to sign the momentous Paris agreement this year.
But president-elect Donald Trump has called climate change a hoax perpetrated by China, has promised to pull out of the Paris accord and dismantle Obama’s Clean Power Plan. This plan would cut America’s carbon footprint, shift our dependence from fossil fuels to renewable energy as a greater source of power and jobs, and boost our energy security.
Our mission at the Alliance, to fight climate change by working with China and the U.S. to save energy, has never been more important. We intend to redouble our efforts to connect stakeholders, inform you, and promote energy efficiency in both countries. It’s not going to happen under the incoming Administration, so it will be up to the Alliance, other non-governmental organizations and the private sector to forge ahead. China will continue its fight on climate change whether the U.S. does or not. (For more on this, see the latest blog of NRDC colleagues Barbara Finamore and Alvin Lin.) It will be China’s gain to fight climate change–environmentally and economically–and our loss. And the world’s since carbon emissions don’t recognize borders.
Last week, the morning after the election, the Alliance hosted a panel of six eminent experts on “The Utility of the Future in the U.S. and China.” We were all reeling from the election results. But we carried on and the information exchanged and connections made were most valuable. The opportunities for energy efficiency in both countries are enormous. Whatever your politics, energy efficiency can save money. As I write, the Trump Administration has named a climate denier to head the transition team at EPA.
We are rollin’ up our sleeves. Join us.