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Predictions 2011: Terry Tamminen On Clean Tech

Wednesday, 1 Dec 2010 | 3:28 PM ET

1. Consumers get brighter.

Energy efficient lighting—especially new LEDs that are dropping in price and rising in quality—will cover more shelf space atHome Depotthan familiar incandescent bulbs (and within two years you’ll find Edison’s old-school bulbs only in specialty stores).

2. Stocks get hotter (literally).

The most profitable IPOs will be green companies, ones that focus on renewable energy like solar, clean transportation, and other low-carbon technologies.

3. Congress gets stuck (again).

Republicans in Congress will attack the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to regulate industrial pollution, especially carbon emissions. Democrats will fight back and the compromise will be a sequel to the pork-filled Energy Policy Act of 2005.

4. Execs fly higher: Private jet travel will, pardon the pun, skyrocket again.

The stigma of Detroit car execs Lear-jetting to Congress with tin cups in hand has faded as US auto fortunes have risen. Delays from increased security and profit-minded airlines trimming schedules to keep planes full will push C-suites back into private jets. Bad news for carbon emissions.

5. China gets richer.

OK, this may seem a no-brainer, but I mean especially as it relates to becoming greener. In 2010, China passed the U.S. as the world’s leading wind power producer. In 2011 it will pass everyone in solar, biomass, and geothermal.

You would expect a carbon crystal ball to be a tad dark, so last year mine resulted in prognostications that were murky at best (shall we say B minus?).

I predicted a climate change bill by Earth Day; it’s clear we won’t have one by Doomsday. There's also zero chance of the world reaching a new climate change agreement at the UN meeting in Cancun. My bad—twice.

I was right about: The greenwashing of ads has indeed begun (although more with green fig leaves covering product “shortcomings” than specific low-carbon boasting); Walmart’s sustainability index (the world’s largest retailer did announce a project with six universities to design standards for labels on all products by 2012); and all of the governors elected in Novemberdid claim the mantle of energy independence in one way or another.

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Terry Tamminen, former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, is a partner at Pegasus Sustainable Century Merchant Bank and the Cullman Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation. (Cracking The Carbon Code is a registered trademark of Terry Tamminen).

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