SunPower CEO Tom Werner on Paris Climate Talks

By:Tom Werner

December 14, 2015

SunPower CEO Tom Werner at the United Nations climate talks in Paris, December, 2015

In the above photo, SunPower CEO Tom Werner joins Senate Pro Tem President Kevin De León (at left) California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins in Paris (far right) to advocate for taking action on climate change.

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Last week SunPower CEO Tom Werner was in Paris to attend several events related to the United Nations climate talks, joining California political leaders in touting the state’s aggressive actions to fight climate change. On Saturday, for the first time in history, 195 nations made commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to protect our planet’s future.​ 

Today Werner said of the agreement:

”The Paris agreement is a historic step forward in addressing climate change and transitioning to a cleaner world. Without question, solar is positioned to make the single biggest contribution of any industry to carbon reduction goals – more than wind, more than efficiency, more than any other technology on the horizon. Given this, we see strong opportunity as a result, spurring new innovation and markets in order to meet commitments of the Paris agreement.”

What follows is an excerpt from a Dec. 9, 2015 San Jose Mercury News opinion piece Werner penned about his takeaways from Paris. The Mercury News is based in Silicon Valley, ground zero for technological innovation and home to SunPower’s headquarters.

As the world's leaders meet in Paris for the COP21 conference, it's clear that a practical and sustainable climate change agreement is within reach. However, with negotiators working to establish international commitments that are achievable, the focus is seemingly on the "who" and "why" at the expense of the "how." I think this misses a significant opportunity, especially given the active participation of global business leaders.

Fortunately, the blueprint for meeting current and prospective climate change targets already exists. Many CEOs are challenging their teams to think well beyond the next fiscal year and identify long-term threats that could undermine their business plans. The foundation of successful business strategies is a plan to drive growth while minimizing foreseeable risks, with energy at or near the top of the list. Today's innovative companies are choosing to support new, clean energy options when it comes to purchasing and consuming energy. These options create a hedge against the price volatility of traditional energy sources, and a hedge against the risk of carbon pricing.

In many parts of the world, the reality is that coal and fossil fuels are becoming economically and environmentally expensive — and thus, risky. Solar power, which is positioned to make the single biggest contribution of any industry to carbon reduction goals — more than wind, efficiency and any other technology on the horizon, is now at center stage in the conversation on how to best mitigate this. Increased innovation, efficiency and market demand have driven down the cost. In the first half of 2015, solar energy accounted for more than 40 percent of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. — a number that exceeds any other energy technology.

According to the International Energy Agency, solar energy could supply more than a quarter of the world's electricity by 2050. With the right level of investment and ingenuity on the part of public and private sector leaders, we're 10 years away from a total transformation of how the world gets energy.

Click the link to read the full piece: Why Business Isn’t Waiting for COPS Outcomes.

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