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Evan Williams: Green tech is coming, but it’s time to stop talking climate

Does the internet have a new green advocate? Evan Williams, CEO of the Obvious Corporation and former CEO of Twitter, was full of optimism during his brief remarks during the opening of Climate Week in New York City on Monday, saying “the green, clean future is inevitable.” As a self-described “farm boy from Nebraska” who recently bought a Tesla (s tsla) Model S, Williams said he connects deeply with the issues being discussed during Climate Week, and said greener technologies like electric cars and energy efficient alternatives are both “technologically possible and economically superior.”

The big question in Williams’ mind, he said, is how do we speed up the development and scale up of these greener technologies? One way is to “reframe challenges as opportunities,” and “stop talking about climate at all, at least when speaking to the general public.” A good number of leaders in both the energy and tech sectors have proposed similar ideas, and the cleantech industry and climate change advocates have long been suffering from a marketing problem.

Greener technologies don’t have to include sacrifices, said Williams. He pointed to the Tesla Model S, which he said doesn’t sacrifice on comfort, design, and performance. Williams told me after his talk that he is hoping to get his Model S delivered before the end of the year. He also used the Obvious Corporation’s investment in alternative meat company Beyond Meat, as an example, and said we can make proteins from vegetables that are 3,000 times more efficient than chickens can, as we’re not discarding the bulk of the animal, and they’re delicious and “flying off the shelves.”

While these examples are small steps, said Williams, they are a move in right direction, and his hope is that these initial successes will lead to more money being invested in entrepreneurs working on green solutions. Such stories can also help unstick a blocked political processes, said Williams.

In a year that has been filled with the politicization of clean energy, and depressing news from a variety of cleantech sectors, Williams’ optimism is refreshing. I also hope he’ll represent a new wave of the internet entrepreneurs and investors who can bring back some excitement for greener technologies. While the first wave of internet execs moved aggressively into cleantech back in the 2006/2007 timeframe, over the past year a good deal of these folks have either started to moved away from cleantech or decided to spend less money and time on it. I would also suggest that if there is a new wave of these advocates, that they look at the lessons of investors and entrepreneurs of the past few years, as there are a lot of things that have been learned.

Tony Blair also spoke at the kick off to Climate Week, and said he is optimistic that “business is actually changing the way it works,” and “ordinary people, consumers, are trying to get a hold of greener solutions and apply them in their daily lives.” We’ll bring you more from these events in New York this week.

Evan Williams is also speaking at our RoadMap event on November 5th in San Francisco, focused on design in the age of connectedness (tickets on sale here).

2 Responses to “Evan Williams: Green tech is coming, but it’s time to stop talking climate”

  1. really good ……a nice clean effort …and .really a good alternative….the thing is being on the consumer side ,are much more focused on how they can save something of their own …like monetary benefits ….not loosing on comfort on a greater scale ……the marketing people must see and focus consumers comforts and their needs …..on a larger scale than on climate and other ecological benefits that they are supposed to do ………… its just being REASONABLE. And then u can see the results pumping in … reach a new record .

  2. The industry absolutely must get away from its polarizing use of climate change as a “settled science” and get into green industry as the “better alternative”. And the only way to do that is through results. For every great idea that has come along you have Solyndra weighing it down like a lead balloon. People in the industry need to just own up to their mistakes and simply keep pushing forward. You will find people are much more receptive to Green Industry as a viable alternative, if it is included with the latest advances in technology from other sectors of industry. The more you can couple up with this, the more you can get people to latch on to the green industry as anything more than a money pit.