William Mebane
Joined Meer in June 2019
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William Mebane

Greta Thunberg is a wake-up call to her generation of youth. Strangely, she was, for me, too, a senior citizen. Marching with Fridays For the Future, discussing the issues, experiencing coronavirus, illustrating climate change in schools, and understanding how America had changed – Greta Thunberg was my moral wake-up call that we, adults, were not moving fast enough on mitigation and adaptation.

I am a Texan, married to Donata Francescato, living in Rome for many years. My father was a petroleum geologist living in San Antonio, Texas. After graduation at the University of Texas, I worked for Ray Geophysical Company as a systems analyst. This work by myself and others led to the digital development of seismic geophysics, which is crucial for petroleum and gas exploration.

After my work in the geophysical industry, I took a master's degree at Harvard Business School. I also studied at MIT under Professor Denis Meadows, who was completing Limits to Growth, the report to the Club of Rome.

Professor Meadows introduced me to Aurelio Peccei, President of the Club of Rome, and Prof. Umberto Colombo, a friend, who offered me a position at Montedison, Italy's public chemical company. There, I applied System Dynamics modeling from MIT. Later, I authored with Beppe Colosante the first Italian long-term model of the education and work system, Disoccupazione Intellectuale, published by Mulino. I also had two book publications with Prof. Umberto Colombo and the WAES team coordinated by Carol Wilson of MIT.

We moved to Italy in 1974, and Donata gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Minou. In 1979, Prof. Colombo was appointed head of the CNEN (National for Nuclear Energy) and converted CNEN to ENEA (National Entity of Nuclear Energy and Alternative Energy). Within ENEA, I became director of the Division for the Promotion of Energy Efficiency.

Beginning In the 1980s, working with ENEA in the field of energy savings, I assisted in drafting the first Italian law, 308 (1982), promoting solar and energy savings. Investment incentives were given for energy efficiency and renewable energy applications for the first time in Italy. Fifteen regional consulting centers were opened. Emphasis was given to collaboration with the Italian industry in setting efficiency standards for labeling household appliances in the EU. The European energy labeling system reduced the average unit energy consumption by over 50 percent. This law established the unique system of nomination of energy managers of large organizations. The Italian Federation of the Rational Use of Energy FIRE was founded to promote energy efficiency from a multidisciplinary approach and to assist these energy managers in their information requirements, training, research, and development of new methods. At the international level. the European Energy Network was formed, comprised of European agencies of energy and research such as ENEA. Prof. Umberto Colombo was president for one year.

Since Greta’s wake-up call, using my experience in energy efficiency, I have been writing about climate opportunities for MEER and participating in Parents Fridays for Future.

Articles by William Mebane

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