AUSTIN -- Solutions to the problem of climate change took center stage Thursday at the inaugural SXSW Eco Conference.
Experts from around the world gathered at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Austin for the three-day event, Oct 4-6.
Tom Brookes is the managing director of the Energy Strategy Centre at the European Climate Foundation.
"This is fantastic. There are not many places in the U.S. to have this discussion. It's a chance to talk to people trying to make a difference and get their arms around this issue. It's very interactive."
Brookes says the United States is core to the world's response to climate change, and action is needed on all fronts.
"So much of what's happening in Europe is influenced by the U.S. We need to think about why we do what we do," he explains. "Corporate engagement is still relatively small, but even that has been in response to customer demand and regulation. There's much more to be done."
Local environmentalist and former Austin City Council member Brigid Shea, now heading up Carbon Shrinks, says state and federal leadership is lacking on environmental issues.
"What happens here is what is going to move the ball. Austin is doing a lot of interesting things and proving that in the absence of federal action, cities, regions and individuals can lead," she says. "Austin's climate protection goals, reducing emissions, moving all departments to renewable energy and the zero waste initiative are transforming the way we look at our trash."
On Oct. 1, the City of Austin became the largest local government in America to power all of its facilities with 100% green energy.
All facilities from neighborhood libraries and recreation centers to police and Fire and stations and all neighborhood libraries and rec are subscribing to Austin Energy’s GreenChoice® clean, renewable energy product.
The renewable energy is produced at a wind farm in West Texas.