In The Field

Carbon conference: Kicking things off on an optimistic note

I arrived at the Carbon Market Insights conference in Washington this morning to find the same sense of wonder that has pervaded the entire country for the past week. Sponsored by Point Carbon and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, this conference caters to the believers, all of whom have been anxiously awaiting some kind of action on global warming from the United States. With the election of Barack Obama as the next president, the expectation is that the time has come.

And now for a much-anticipated word from President-Elect Obama, delivered by Jason Grumet, one of his environmental advisors, before a standing-room only hall filled with upward of 800 people: “I came here today absolutely firm in the commitment to tell you nothing at all.”

Well. I guess it was to be expected, given the ongoing clamp-down on any information from the Obama camp. And it must be said that Grumet delivered his statement with a smile that drew not only laughter but applause, which speaks plenty about just how much good will and political capital the new president has in the bank as he enters office.

Grumet told everybody to keep up the good work and recommended they rest up during the holidays. “It’s going to be a very, very busy 2009, and we are going to need all of you at the top of your games.” He then made a prompt exit, kindly answering no questions from a gaggle of reporters at his heels and leaving everybody else to deal with the details, which are daunting indeed. But more on that later.

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