WASHINGTON – International business leaders from some of the world's major economies called for a common-sense energy and climate policy at a two-day forum that concluded Tuesday.
In anticipation of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December,delegates from six continents met to discuss the private sector's role in negotiating an international energy and climate change agreement.
“There's one thing that ties us together,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chief Operating Officer David Chavern said at the chamber's Major Economies Business Forum on Energy and Climate Change. “As businesses,we're looking for practical solutions.”
Chavern said that energy security and the environment are interconnected and that “climate change is a global problem that needs a global solution.”
Those solutions,outlined Tuesday in a joint agreement among 10 countries represented,include removing international trade barriers,protecting intellectual property rights and encouraging governments to make greater financial commitments to new energy technology. Business leaders agreed that an international climate change agreement should protect the environment and ensure energy security but should not hinder economic growth.
“We commit to exercising a leadership role on tackling climate change and contributing to a new international agreement in Copenhagen,” the statement said.
As estimated by the Energy Information Administration,global energy demand will increase by nearly 50 percent by 2030. Much of that increase will come from developing countries that do not currently have access to reliable energy.
“An international agreement on climate change will require not only the cooperation of the developed and developing world but also the full-scale engagement of the global business community,” Karen Harbert,president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber's Institute for 21st Century Technology,said Tuesday.
Brazilian representative Augusto Jucá,executive manager of the National Confederation of Industry Brazil,said one of the Brazilian government's main concerns is social equity. Many people,especially those in the Amazon region,do not have access to dependable energy sources. Jucá said the Brazilian population is expected to grow by about 4 million people by 2030,or about 2 percent,which will undoubtedly create energy security problems.
“We are much concerned about our energy future,” Jucá said.
Greg Evans,director of economics at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry,said Australia has a high stake in international energy policy because the country is a main exporter of coal and natural gas.
“If we act and other countries don't act,it will be to our economic disadvantage,” Evans said.
Canada is also a major exporter of energy resources to countries such as the United States.
“We're strongly committed to a global deal,” Canadian Council of Chief Executives President Thomas d'Aquino said. The Canadian representative said he would favor a regional energy policy agreement with the United States and Mexico.
Folker Franz,senior adviser of BusinessEurope,a federation of European businesses,said an international agreement is crucial because Europe faces “some of the highest energy crises in the world.”
Some at the conference said they favor an international cap-and-trade agreement,a measure that would attempt to control the amount of pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions by offering tax breaks and other economic incentives.
Ole Krog,deputy director general of the Confederation of Danish Industry,said he would support an international agreement that would include a global cap-and-trade policy,an approach the European Union adopted in 2005.
Sen. Lamar Alexander,R-Tenn.,said he favors building new nuclear power plants, instead of a cap-and-trade solution,to solve the nation's energy problem. Alexander,a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works,said a transition to electric-powered cars would decrease the country's dependence on foreign oil.
Alexander said the United States is lagging behind other countries,including China and France,in nuclear technology.
“Nuclear energy in America lacks two words: presidential leadership,” he said in his address Monday.
His plan includes building 100 nuclear reactors over the next 20 years.
“We could create twice as many green jobs by building 100 new reactors as we could be building 186,000 wind turbines,” he said,referring to President Barack Obama's energy plan.
Alexander said he opposes a cap and-trade-bill because it would likely raise the price of fuel and not significantly lower carbon emissions.