Secretary of Energy Rick Perry made waves at an energy conference on Wednesday, saying he’s interested in “getting together and having a conversation” with U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about the Green New Deal.
Perry spoke at CERAWeek, a week-long annual event for the energy sector. The Republican member of Trump’s cabinet and former Texas governor, said he doesn’t see a need to be disagreeable on the issue, according to Bloomberg. Perry said,
“I don’t think that the representative should be castigated and pushed aside just on the face of her comments relative to that she wants to live in a place where there’s clean air and clean water. So do I. How can we get there?”
CERAWeek is an event heavy on input from oil and gas industry executives. Perry’s willingness to discuss the Green New Deal with bill sponsor and Democratic U.S. Representative Ocasio-Cortez hints at a “shift in tone” that “may be indicative of rising social pressure for climate-friendly practices,” Bloomberg notes.
Perry also talked renewables at the conference, in addition to discussing U.S. exports of oil, natural gas, and coal. “Texas now produces 15 percent of its total energy from wind and solar,” Perry said, as reported by Houston Public Media. “That is more, percentage wise, than our friends in Europe.”
Perry is technically correct about wind and solar, but Europe also has a high percentage of hydropower, and less carbon per capita than Texas.
Others Speak Up
Perry wasn’t the only CERAWeek participant talking about green energy, according to Bloomberg. BP CEO Bob Dudley talked about a need to engage with policymakers, “including those behind the Green New Deal.” (It’s worth noting that a recent report brought up legitimate questions about BP’s public “green stance.”)
Dudley said shareholders are “increasingly” asking how his company’s strategy jives with the Paris Agreement. He said,
“There is a rising tide of concern on many fronts about the lack of progress on climate issues — not just concern: anger.”
Shareholder pressure will require further investment in renewable energy, said CEO Eldar Saetre of Norwegian energy company Equinor ASA. Bloomberg said Equinor was “equally critical” of the industry regarding the consequences of climate change.
Conversation is the first step. Immediately dismissing any ideas that could slow climate change and help the country transition into a future of renewable energy is the mistake. And that includes dismissing the Green New Deal. Action is necessary.
Skepticism over how certain companies and politicians approach climate change is warranted. Buckling to shareholder pressure isn’t as noble as making a proactive push to save the planet — to say the least. But pressure matters, no matter how it happens. And there’s broad public support for green energy policies. The climate is changing, and public pressure is building.