Before the luncheon plenary, President Clinton announced several commitments, including the bite-sized chunk of a program to vaccinate 10,000 Honduran children eagainst hepatitis-A, costing $1 million.
Peter Goldmark, Program Director, Environmental Defense moderate a panel of
John Chambers, President and CEO, Cisco Systems
Klaus Kleinfeld, President and CEO of Siemens
Dr, Muhammad Yunus, Founder and Managing Director, Grameen Bank
Al Gore was asked about what would be involved in getting the US and China on a path to sustainability.
The US is still the one nation best able to lead the world. We face a full-scale planetary emergency. The US should be the pace car, out in front, leading. Other countries, particularly China, need to see leadership from us to push them into increased ation. To get China on the right road we need to get the US on the right road. The debate over global warming is over. The debate now is how we can best craft emergency solutions to solve the crisis.
Mohammed Yumas was asked about micro-credit. He gave an example of a project with the beggars in Bangladesh. His bank gives loans to beggars, to help bring them out of begging. The loan is used to purchase merchandise to sell as they go house to house. “They’re going from house to house anyway.” Now as a result of this program more than 80,000 beggars are in business for themselves. The cost to set each up in business was a $12 loan.
Klaus Kleinfeld talked about Siemens finding ways to sequester CO2 produced when burning coal, and developing much more efficient turbines.
John Chambers talked about setting up network schools around the world, training people in skills setting up and maintaining networks.
Gore then talked about how it is government that sets the rules within which business competes. He talked about the need to change the tax structure to encourage businesses to solve the problems of pollution, particularly global warming. He proposes a revenue-neutral shift away from payroll taxes – taxing work – to taxing pollution. He says business will follow that and find ways to reduce pollution.
Kleinfeld said that tax incentives should also be part of the plan to help kick-start new approaches and technologies, and then the incentive reduced and eliminated so the business model becomes sustainable rather than dependent.
Chambers talked about how Cicsco didn’t even know what their CO2 output was so they conducted an audit –measured the CO2 footprint – that allowed them to see where to reduce.
Gore made an important point that business leaders need to start policing their colleagues to stop those putting out irresponsible misleading PR. He specifically mentioned Exxon, which is spending a lot of money putting out PR and funding organizations saying that there is no global warming, etc. and that this is polluting the public discussion of this issue.
He said we need to reawaken the conversation of democracy, with integrity, start having honest conversations, and stop having taboo topics and marginalization tactics.