Time to de-carbonize society: Kennedy 

Environmental lawyer says electric cars are closer than we think


It's time for Canada and the U.S. to cut off their dependency on fossil-based fuels, which produce polluting carbons Robert Kennedy Jr. told a receptive audience at a Whistler conference on land use.

But before this happens the U.S. and Canada must invest billions of dollars in creating a grid to carry electricity from alternate sources of power, such as wind and solar, from one part of the continent to another.

The Obama administration is already looking at America's energy plan for the future said Kennedy, an environmental lawyer and resolute defender of habitat.

"We have enough wind in Montana, North Dakota, and Texas to provide 100 per cent of the energy needs of all North America, even if every North American owned an electric car," he told hundreds packed into a conference room at the 2009 B.C. Land Summit last week.

"We have a government today that is intent on harnessing these new forms of energy..."

Right now the electric grid for the U.S. cannot transport energy from alternative sources of power to the rest of the country.

There are farmers across North Dakota who want to build wind farms to save the family plot, but with no way to get the energy to market construction is stalled, said Kennedy.

He went on to the tell the packed conference room that building the grid for the North American continent will be one of the greatest challenges for land use planning.

But that while it may seem an enormous task it will happen just as telecommunications and Internet grids have been put in place, said Kennedy.

Many have argued that "decarbonizing" society will cost money and jobs but Kennedy argued the opposite is true. He pointed to Iceland as an example. In the 1970s the government of the day decided that it had to stop its dependence on foreign energy, coal and oil, as it was beggaring the country. Within 15 years 90 per cent of its power came from thermal and it was considered one of the richest counties in the world by GDP.

(Since then Iceland's economic status has plummeted after its investments were crushed by the global economic slump).

Sweden decided to do much the same thing in the late 1990s, and today it is the sixth richest nation in the world by GDP said Kennedy.

The U.S. spends $1 billion a day on oil. It also pays $1.3 trillion a day in direct and indirect subsidies to the incumbent energy producers.

"...This export of $700 billion a year in American wealth has beggared a nation that when I was a little boy owned half the wealth on the face of the earth," said Kennedy.

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