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From Davos: Hope for climate change legislation is bleak at best

I attended a dinner on alternative energy, hosted by Liz Claman over at Fox (previously CNBC), with a couple of heavy energy hitters and the ever-present Tom Friedman on the panel. 

It was a pretty bleak couple of hours, given the aftermath of Copenhagen. Most surprising to me was a snap poll of the room, which had about 100 in attendance -- I'd say 60 Americans - asking who thought some form of climate change/energy bill would pass in congress by June. Zero folks raised their hand. (Problematic methodology warning -- it's harder to raise your hand than to keep it down, but still...) By next June? About 25 percent, 30 percent if I'm feeling generous. And it's late, so I'm not particularly.

Tom Friedman, in his every year Davos garb (casual oxford and sweater), had the most enjoyable quote of the evening: "If horses could vote, we wouldn't be driving cars." Really makes me glad we've limited suffrage.

I have no idea if that was already in a Friedman column. Or even Hot, Flat and Crowded. (My apologies, Tom). But having said that, my snap view is that he's a national treasure. He tends to be sensible, he works/travels the world like a banshee with near unparalleled access, and -- most importantly -- he actually speaks English. Crowds of all shapes and sizes can actually relate to what he's saying. They don't tune him out, even when they're jetlagged after a long overnight flight to Zurich. 

I'm convinced we'd be in a much better place on climate change if most serious climatologists could actually present in plain English and engage an audience.

Case in point from dinner: The truly lovely Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus. He is charming one-on-one, and doing tremendous work bringing affordable alternative energy (solar power) to villages throughout his country. But his ponderous intervention, late in the dinner, three times returning to the importance of having the people running the country and not the government, had everybody scratching their heads. Affably, mind you. But still.

One more meeting, and then there's a Clinton thing (he's been ubiquitous today ... and the one fellow at Davos that folks are stopping to take pictures of) that I'd like to attend. Word is Clinton's talking about Haiti. And losing his voice. We'll see.

Ian Bremmer will be blogging from Davos this week sending reports and commentary from inside the World Economic Forum.   

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