In this exclusive Fresh Dialogues interview, former Energy Secretary Steven Chu shares his reaction to Obama’s major speech on climate change; explains how a carbon tax will drive U.S. competitiveness; has a message for climate deniers; and even shares tips for being more energy efficient in the kitchen. When did you last get cooking tips from a Nobel Prize winning physicist who’s been described as the One Hundred Billion Dollar Man? It’s time to listen up folks! It’s time to listen up folks!
Here are some highlights of our conversation:
On Obama’s Climate Speech (which focused more on climate change, and less on green jobs)
“This is a real issue. We have to do something about it!”
When asked if he wrote or was involved in writing the speech, Chu joked that he has ‘been involved’ for 4 1/4 years and recently regaled several heads of state (including President Obama) with his powerpoint pitch for raising appliance efficiency standards, reminding them that “there’s money to be made…and saved.”
On Carbon Tax
“A carbon tax must be non-regressive and revenue neutral. It will drive efficiency…competitiveness. Educating the public (on climate change, energy policy) is very important, but it’s about economic opportunities and (creating) a growth market. Change will be partly market driven.”
On Climate Change Deniers
“I’d put them in the same category as people who said, in the 60’s and 70’s, that you haven’t proved to me that smoking causes cancer.”
On Chu’s vision for distributed energy
“Distribution companies partnering with the private sector have the opportunity to access fairly inexpensive capital and be part owners in distributed power and energy storage in benign environments, like inside a home or building. When you do that, the price of electricity will go down (3 to 4 times). All of a sudden utility companies will be in a growth business…Utilities should wake up and see there’s money to be made!”
Chu cited the advantages of black-out reduction thanks to demand control; and underlined the multitude of opportunities that low-priced software and sensing equipment offer.
On Cooking with Chu
Tip #1: “If you’re boiling a pot of water: if you put a lid on it, it comes to boil much more quickly.”
Tip #2: “Pick the right sized pot, don’t pick a pot five times bigger, twice as big.”
– Steven Chu, Nobel Prize winner in physics 1997, Former Energy Secretary, 2009-13.
No word yet on whether Steven Chu is planning to give up his new job at Stanford University for a prime time cooking show…Though we hear there is an opening.
The interview was recorded at the Silicon Valley Energy Summit, presented by the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, Stanford University on June 28, 2013. Photos by Lina Broydo.