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Jax climate and energy panels: a tale of two conferences

One month, one city, two panels looking at the future of energy, with two very different tones.

This October, Jacksonville will host the Florida Energy Summit. The event, sponsored by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the JAX Chamber, is billed as “convening energy leaders from across the state and around the nation to share ideas on diversifying the state’s energy resources, spurring economic growth and promoting energy conservation.”

However, critics who follow climate policy have been quick to point out that even though the Summit is an energy supply event, greenhouse gas emissions and climate policy are not even mentioned as line items on the agenda.

Also this month, Jacksonville University is hosting “Climate Change From Several Perspectives: Thinking Globally and Acting Locally,” a panel discussion that ironically also features a JAX Chamber representative, among other stakeholders. The event coincides with the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, will feature a mayoral proclamation, and “will summarize the major issues in climate change as well as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established through the UN,” according to event organizers.

This seeming cognitive dissonance on climate was highlighted during the recent Climate Reality Project conference in Miami, when former Vice President Al Gore used images of South Beach’s flooded sidewalks to criticize Gov. Rick Scott and the state’s power companies for ignoring the effects of a warming planet.

Under Scott, the Department of Environmental Protection has avoided using the phrase climate change, but the governor denied he banned the term.


Written By

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at

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