Former US President Bill Clinton’s climate chief calls for solar power at CC9 conference

Ira Magaziner på klimakonferansen CC9
(Foto: Bo Mathisen/CC9)

Publish date: June 16, 2009

Written by: Anne Karin Sæther

Translated by: Håvard Lundberg

Ira Magaziner, chairman of the Clinton Climate Initiative, wants good business mechanisms that will guarantee construction of renewable energy. Solar power is, after all, cheaper to operate then coal plants, Magaziner pointed out.

Ira Magaziner was one of the speakers during the Climate Conference 2009 (CC9), which was arranged by Club de Madrid, Norway’s Hafslund ASA and Bellona on the 4th and 5th of June.

Magaziner was a central advisor for the administration of Bill Clinton and holds a number of positions in the Clinton Foundation, amongst other chairman in the Clinton Climate Initiative.

See a video playback of Magaziner’s appearance here.

Action, not words
In his speech at CC9, Magaziner made it clear that general political targets on greenhouse gas reductions are not considered binding by political leaders at all.

“When we’re talking about really addressing climate change it’s not a question about agreeing to a general target,” said Magaziner.  

“It’s very easy for a political leader to say he’s going to do anything by 2050, because he won’t be there and by then nobody will remember. So what we really have to see is specific, concrete mechanisms,” he said.

Magaziner himself is working with different large scale projects in the Clinton Climate Initiative. The institution coordinates big purchases of climate technologies in the same way that the Clinton Foundation has done with medicines. Through large purchases, it’s possible to drive down the prices, whether it’s the price tag for LED-lightning or solar power.

“LED-street lightning saves 70 percent of energy and it pays back in 6 years,” said Magaziner.   

Solar cheapest
The Clinton Climate Initiative has recently established a solar power project in India, which may be able to compete with the low cost of coal power.

“The major issues that we are facing for solar power is the big investments up front,” said Magaziner.

“When a solar power plant is built, it’s very low cost to operate compared to a coal fired power plant, which has a high annual cost for the coal, transporting the coal and so on,” he said.
Magaziner wants good investments mechanisms such that the government and industry could work with solutions that will be affordable at the same time as they help fight global warming.