Green industry demands low-carbon dollars

By @ibtimes on

Top executives from utilities, electric car, solar and wind power companies demanded on Tuesday that governments turn away from fossil fuels when they sign a new climate pact, expected in December.

Seven months before the world meets to try and thrash out a new global treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, executives and investors called on tough targets to slash carbon emissions at a green business conference in Copenhagen.

Emission reduction at this scale will profoundly affect business, said a draft seen by Reuters and written by a Copenhagen Climate Council of 12 chief executives, as well as academics and development groups.

The draft called for greenhouse gases to peak within the next decade. A final statement would be delivered to the U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer and the Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen later on Tuesday.

Copenhagen is also the venue for the U.N.-led climate negotiations in December. Companies signing the draft included PwC, DONG Energy, Vestas, Duke Energy, Masdar, Virgin Group and Suntech Power.

The statement drew on comments from wider industry including more than 500 executives attending the May 24-26 World Business Summit on Climate Change, said council founder Erik Rasmussen.

The new climate treaty must push the development of new technologies through public funds, the draft said. Governments should strive to end subsidies that favor high emissions transport and energy infrastructure.

Policymakers told the conference that industry should lobby governments for low-carbon support instead of against high-carbon penalties, saying green tech was an opportunity.

Achieving a 20 percent share for renewables could mean more than a million jobs in this industry by 2020, European Union chief Jose Manuel Barroso said on Monday, referring to an EU energy target.

Some executives at the conference doubted the motives of big business, saying they talked green while carrying on as normal, for example investing in fossil fuels.

The chief executive of U.S. utility Duke Energy, James Rogers, said on Tuesday he may be building his last two coal plants to bet instead on nuclear power.

Cleantech entrepreneurs called for more money for them, and less to pay big oil to clean up.

We need to support the innovators, said Shai Agassi, chief executive of electric car infrastructure company Better Place.

There are a number of business leaders who are out there on a limb. We need to support those folks, said David Blood, a partner at Generation Investment Management.

In Paris, major economies including the United States, China, the European Union, Russia, India and Japan, met on Tuesday to seek common ground ahead of the December gathering.

(Writing by Gerard Wynn; editing by Keiron Henderson)

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