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2007 CEO Forum: Greenhouse Gauntlet

Tackling climate change is a monumental challenge. Power-company CEOs discuss long-range plans for a climate-friendly energy economy.

Fortnightly Magazine - June 2007

power. The public demands both. Our challenge is to figure out how to deliver both.

There’s no reason to wait for a global agreement before we do something. Other countries understand this issue and they haven’t ignored it. In time they will begin to address it as well. We need to demonstrate leadership, and if it drives innovation and conservation in this country, that can only help us.

Rowe, Exelon: What China and India will do is a major uncertainty. Action by the United States won’t have any impact if the developing countries don’t do something too. But the United States must take a significant first step because we have been a major carbon producer for a long time and we are wealthy. The obligation is on us to move sharply sooner, but that doesn’t end the issue.

Chesser, Great Plains Energy: I feel strongly we should lead the way. We are fortunate enough to have the economy and society that can develop the technology and lead by example. At the same time we should use that momentum to do everything we can to influence China and India to install new technology as well. But it’s wrong for us to sit back and say, “If you guys do it, we’ll do it.” That would minimize the opportunities for us. We should lead the way, and try to influence them to follow that lead.

Hay, FPL: A revenue-neutral carbon fee will preserve the competitive position of U.S.-based companies that compete in markets that aren’t bearing an equivalent burden for CO 2 reduction. A promising approach is to place an equivalent tariff on imports from countries lacking a carbon policy, and rebate the tariff on exports to such countries.

New Regulatory Compact

Fortnightly: What changes in regulation, policy or financing structures need to happen in order for GHG-reduction efforts to succeed?

Saggau, Great River Energy: What has to change is the way we talk about global warming and solutions to it. We have to look at this globally, across industry sectors.

If you focus on one sector, you will miss low-hanging fruit. For example, transportation and utilities working together would be a perfect collaboration. Plugging in cars at night can contribute to reducing GHG emissions and improving our energy independence, and it will increase the efficiency of the way this country does business.

We will fit the pieces together if different sectors of the economy work together to find solutions. A national cap-and-trade program that encompasses all industries will get you there. But the framework for the debate, and the clearinghouse for information and ideas, has to be formalized on a national level.

I’m fundamentally an optimist. I know the technology is out there, and if we can see our way through the initial upfront costs and hassles and false starts, this stuff will take off and we will create a more efficient economy. We’re in the early stages of this evolution, and we don’t give ourselves enough credit for what we’ve already accomplished. We need to acknowledge the leadership and great thinking that

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