05/03/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Shouldn't the G20 Just Stay Home, Skype, and Tweet?

They say there's no replacement for a face-to-face meeting, but that is hardly true any longer. While a decade ago video calls seemed Jetson-like and kind of creepy, Skype truly set us free to chat with words, or voice, or video, and a combination of all three.

So remind me why the world's leaders and their retinue must continually jet around the globe filling the upper atmosphere with CO2 and the halls of stuff conference rooms with a lot of hot air? Shouldn't we be saving the CO2 emissions for FUN stuff?

While the G20 agenda is certainly important, and social networks such as Facebook and especially Twitter have served an important role in keeping people connected around the events, we should take the next step.

To do things differently, we've got to think about things differently. Truly greening up a lot of the globe's meetings and conferences - canceling some, reorganizing others - seems like a lovely place to start. We've got some advanced videoconferencing technology at our fingertips. Why not use it? Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel talked to President Barack Obama by videoconference ahead of the G20 meetings - this should be the new standard.

We20 might be on the right track. We20 launched a web site a little earlier this year to use Twitter and Facebook to help people set up their own G20 meetings and make their own economic recovery plans.

We20 was the brainchild of a group of social entrepreneurs who all thought that, as the World Bank's Robert Zoellick put it, "We need a Facebook for multi-lateral economic diplomacy."

Paul Massey says We20 meetings have already produced shop-sharing partnerships and CO2 accounting schemes. The founders are hoping eventually government will make policy by building on these type of online-started thematic meetings rather than the old-school version of a lot of (generally) white guys sitting around a big conference table.

We20 is very young and Massey says it will be difficult to get established NGOs to figure out how to effectively utilize the platform. Maybe We20 will effect the real G20, maybe not. But it is certainly a step in a nice, new direction.

More from TreeHugger on green meetings
::San Francisco Puts Green Under One 'Ecothusiasm' Roof
::Green:Net Using Solar Power for Conference's WiFi Network
::Bioneers 2008: A Green Conference Standard
::Green Conference Debates Impact of Climate Change
::Toward a More Sustainable 2009
::IPCC Scientist Encourages Companies to Replace Travel With Video Conferencing
::You've Travelled the World: Now Change It