Brainstorm Green, Fortune’s conference on business and the environment, kicks off today. Highlights: Bill Ford, the chairman of Ford Motor, panels on the economy, on Washington and a one-on-one interview with Paul Hawken.
Please forgive the self-promotion but as co-chair of the conference, now in its second year, I’m really excited. We’re bringing a great lineup of business people, environmentalists, government types and thinkers together around the theme: How can business help solve the world’s big environmental problems?
The focus this year, not surprisingly, will be climate change, but we’ll also have panels on biofuels, water, supply chain transparency, green jobs (with Van Jones), food and agriculture, biofuels and dozens of other topics. About 300 people are expected here in Laguna Beach, CA. (Lovely spot—see the view from my hotel room window below.) The biggest name will be Bill Clinton, who’s the final speaker on Wednesday a.m.
I’m going to moderate two panels today (Monday). One about Washington with Fred Krupp of EDF, Jim Rogers, the CEO of Duke Energy, Mike Splinter, the CEO of Applied Materials, David Crane, the CEO of NRG and Bill Bumpers, a plugged-in D.C. lawyer, I imagine we’ll start out by talking about what last week’s decision by EPA to declare CO2 and five other greenhouse gases to be pollutants—meaning they can be regulated by government fiat—will mean for the climate regulation debate that starts this week in the House.
Later, I’ll talk with Paul Hawken about some big picture stuff—basically, whether all the progress we’ve seen towards “green” in the last few years is enough to deal with the scale of the problems.
Musician, farmer, enterpreneur and writer Chuck Leavell will entertain before dinner. Chuck has for years been the keyboardist with the Rolling Stones (listen here) and he is a avid tree-hugger, literally—he and his wife Rose Lane operate a tree plantation in Georgia and they were named National Outstanding Tree Farmers of The Year in 1999 by the American Tree Farm System. He’s the author of a book called Forever Green: The History and Hope of the American Forest, and one of the people behind a cool new green website called Mother Nature Network (MNN).
I’ll try to blog and post some pictures from Brainstorm Green during the week if I can find the time. Several of us will be tweeting from the site. The hashtag is #FortuneGreen, and Twitter devotees will know what that means. (I have now beaten Oprah twice in my life—once during the 1994 Marine Corps Marathon and more recently because I started tweeting a month or so before she did.) We’ll also be posting coverage at Fortune.com.