AREDay Summit begins today in Snowmass |

AREDay Summit begins today in Snowmass

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times
Bluesman Taj Mahal performs at a free ARE Day concert in Aspen's Wagner Park in 2012.
The Aspen Times File |

An annual conference on climate-change action has a greater sense of urgency this year as international policy discussions taking place in December near.

The American Renewable Energy Day Summit returns this year with the theme of “Racing Climate Change: Green Bridge With China, the Road to Paris,” putting an emphasis on the international relationships that will shape policy on climate change in the years to come.

The summit, an annual Aspen event that is taking place in Snowmass Village this year for the first time, has a history of bringing together leaders from all over the world, such as former President Jimmy Carter, CNN founder Ted Turner and this year Huang Ming, the creator of China’s “Solar Valley.”

Discussions among leaders and influential thinkers are particularly important this year, as leaders of the world prepare for the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris, said Chip Comins, AREDay founder. AREDay is one of many forums for those discussions leading up to the conference in December, he said.

“It’s very important that the vehicle of the U.N., engaging 193 countries throughout the world, is activated on this issue of climate, and we are very, very concerned that unless we have the world come together on this issue, we’re not going to be able to solve the problem,” Comins said.

Former Sen. Tim Wirth, now vice president of the U.N. Foundation, will make remarks Monday about the conference and participate in a conversation about the politics of climate change.

Because China and the U.S. account for about half the world’s economy and half the world’s carbon emissions, according to Comins, the leadership of those two countries is key to putting any kind of international policy into action on the issue, he said. Ming not only is a successful businessman in the clean-technology industry but also played a role in the passage of China’s Renewable Energy Act in 2005, so he can play a role in building a bridge with the U.S. over this issue, Comins said.

“We have to create a bridge … of solution in order for the rest of the world to get stimulated and follow along,” Comins said.

AREDay started Saturday with the debut of the Impact Film Festival. The festival will end Tuesday with a talk and showing of “Racing Extinction,” the newest film by director Louie Psihoyos.

Psihoyos recently made headlines with a public-art collaboration projecting images of endangered animals on the Empire State Building. The film showing is open to the public and free to Summit passholders.

The session part of the summit begins today. Speakers today include Kevin Rudd, former prime minister of Australia, who passed a carbon tax while in office that was later repealed, and local activists such as Mona Newton of the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, Colorado Sen. Kerry Donovan, Jerome Osentowski of Colorado Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute and Brook LeVan of Sustainable Settings.

The event culminates with a free performance by Taj Mahal and the Phantom Blues Band on Thursday.