Energy Secretary Urges White Roofs

Vivi Gorman
Posted on Wednesday 27th May 2009

LONDON – While speaking to climate experts and thought leaders in London yesterday, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu recommended painting roofs and paved surfaces white to cut heat absorption and carbon emissions, the Times newspaper reported.

Chu, the Nobel prize-winning physicist selected to be part of President Barack Obama’s cabinet, made the case for pale surfaces at the opening of St. James’ Nobel Laureate Symposium being held in London from May 26-28. The purpose of the symposium is to discuss the climate crisis and the impact on the world economy and development. The Times is the media partner for the symposium.

The U.S. Secretary cited research by Arthur Rosenfeld of the California Energy Commission, a former colleague of Chu’s, which revealed that painting the surfaces of the world’s largest cities could have an enormous impact on reducing global warming in terms of carbon emissions. Rosenfeld was instrumental in establishing policy in California in 2005 to require all flat roofs on commercial buildings to be white, the Times said.

Prince Charles Host

The program is being hosted by Prince Charles, who in opening remarks urged global decision makers to take action now rather than wait five or ten years. The links between environmental, social and climate challenges are so strong that we need integrated solutions to address the underlying problems now, he said.

Taking the podium, Chu said that replacing all of the roofs with white and roads with cement in the world today would reflect so much sunlight it would have the effect of taking all cars off the road for 11 years. He commented that white and black cost the same.

The conclusions of the symposium will be released as the “St. James’s Palace Memorandum” that will serve as an engagement strategy among policymakers and global scientific and business leaders ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.

test image for this block