Copenhagen climate change conference opens with calls to action

Copenhagen, Denmark, December 7, 2009 — More than 110 heads of state came together at the landmark summit on climate change in Copenhagen, with many warning of the grim fate that could face the planet in the absence of meaningful action.

The summit gathers members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, with a roll call of about 192 nations.

Delegates are striving to craft a master plan for reducing carbon dioxide and other gases that trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere.

Another goal is to come up with a funding mechanism to support and protect Third World countries, which could suffer the negative impacts of climate change without contributing to the problem as significantly as more industrialized nations.

If these and other goals are met, leaders will agree December 18 to a political plan that sets a common course of action. Further negotiations could happen in 2010, with the treaty taking effect at the end of 2012.

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One of the biggest sticking points in this process could be the willingness of wealthier nations to commit to large cuts in carbon emissions in what is a difficult financial climate for many.

Electric utilities are also making their voices heard as delegates step up in Copenhagen.

Constellation Energy released a statement of support for the international community’s efforts, adding that nuclear power and the electrification of the transportation sector can play a large role in cutting emissions.

“Constellation Energy is working to transform the way we power our cities, homes and also our vehicles, using low-emitting baseload nuclear power to reduce our dependency on foreign oil and improve air quality,” said Mayo A. Shattuck III, chairman, president and chief executive officer, Constellation Energy. “Because of the challenges posed by electrifying the global transport sector, we have a strong commitment to smart grid and other similar green initiatives.

Shattuck said major innovation is needed in the search for renewable energy sources and technologies.

“As we develop and execute strategies to transform the global energy infrastructure, we must recognize that major innovation will be required,

“Constellation Energy’s pursuit of sustainable energy solutions is grounded in an unyielding and comprehensive commitment to environmental stewardship. Environmental protection is a foundational value for our company. We believe firmly that it is our responsibility to care for the environment and sustain our natural resources for future generations. This is both proper social responsibility and wise business practice,” Shattuck said.

In Constellation Energy’s view, the U.S. climate change policy should work together with the one being debated in Copenhagen, have a market-based approach, apply to the entire industrial sector and provide regulatory clarity to the energy market.

In a joint statement with Wang Yusuo, chairman of China-based ENN Group, a private energy company, Jim Rogers, president and CEO of Duke Energy said a spirit of cooperation will lead to success at Copenhagen.

“Cooperation between government and business leaders from China and the U.S., the world’s two largest industrial nations, is a key to the success of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen,” according to the statement.

“ENN, one of the largest private energy companies in China, and Duke Energy, one of the largest electric utilities in the U.S., have started this work by joining forces to develop advanced solar energy and clean energy technologies. These include combining advanced coal, gas and power, and bio-energy technologies with capabilities to absorb carbon dioxide,” according to the statement. “We believe that this type of cooperation will yield results faster and more economically for the tens of millions of customers who depend on our companies for energy.”

Duke Energy also has an agreement to work with the Huaneng Group, China’s largest power generator, to explore potential long-term cooperative initiatives to reduce coal plant emissions and develop other renewable sources of electricity generation, the statement said.

“The sooner we get to work on achieving emissions reductions that scientists say are critical to avoiding catastrophic climate change, the less expensive the transition to a low-carbon economy will be,” according to the statement.

 

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