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Debating climate and capitalism at the Aspen Ideas Festival

14 Jul 2014

Eric Beinhocker brings INET Oxford thinking to Aspen's annual high-powered gathering.
 
Each summer for the past 9 years the Aspen Institute  in partnership with the Atlantic magazine, has gathered leading figures from politics, business, technology, academia, and the arts in the beautiful mountain town of Aspen, Colorado for its annual Ideas Festival.   This year 350 presenters and over 3,000 attendees engaged in 200 sessions on topics ranging from the future of the Middle East, to developments in robotics, to the state of the global economy.  Speakers included Hillary Rodham Clinton, Al Gore, Timothy Geithner, David Petraeus, and Tom Friedman.  INET Oxford's Executive Director Eric Beinhocker gave two talks.  The first was with environmental leader Hal Harvey on climate change and the future of cities.  The second session featured Aspen Institute Executive Vice President Elliot Gerson interviewing Beinhocker along with Seattle venture capitalist and philanthropist Nick Hanauer on their article "Capitalism Re-Defined".
 
Beinhocker said that he came away from the Ideas Festival "more optimistic" that there is a growing sense of alignment between US policymakers, business leaders, NGOs and and technology innovators on how to tackle climate change. Beinhocker noted, "While we still have a very long way to go, I was encouraged by the talks by US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on recent US actions, and the continued rapid progress on clean energy technologies is very exciting.  People are starting to realise that a clean energy economy is a better economy."
 
On the re-defining capitalism session, Beinhocker commented that "Thomas Piketty's book, which made significant use of data from Tony Atkinson's group at INET Oxford, has touched off a vital debate on deep issues around the nature and purpose of capitalism.  The argument Nick and I make that the purpose of capitalism is to 'solve human problems' seems to have tapped into that vein and generated a very positive response."
 
Videos of many of the sessions and other information can be found on the Ideas Festival website.