Michigan Energy Futures Conference speaker says big businesses are on board to fight climate change
One climate change narrative is that businesses do not believe in the science of climate change and will do anything to avoid regulation by the government.
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization established by the Pew Charitable Trusts to work with businesses and policymakers to help iron out some of these perceived differences.
“I don’t hear companies say that climate change is a myth,” she said.
“Maybe it’s just the people I work with, but the big businesses I work with are not climate change-deniers. They are out there actively managing the risks of climate change and looking for opportunities.”
It’s not as though Peace is working with small companies more concerned with the environment than profits. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions has a 33-member business council that mostly includes Fortune 500 companies.
The council spans a variety of business sectors, from airlines to oil companies, and includes local heavyweights DTE Energy and General Motors. The council serves in an advisory capacity, helping the center develop policy recommendations.
“We don’t speak on behalf of the business council or any of the businesses we work with, we learn from them,” Peace said.
“We’ve been a huge advocate for years of putting a price on carbon emissions as a way to incentivize reducing emissions. It could be a carbon tax, a cap and trade system, a carbon cap, there are various ways to do it.”
Whatever system is implemented, Peace said that she hopes it is implemented quickly. With Congress as gridlocked as ever with immigration legislation and other concerns, she said she hopes that President Barack Obama will work through the Environmental Protection Agency to craft new carbon regulations.
“Companies want certainty,” she said.
“They know that not doing anything exposes them to increasing risks down the line but they want to make sure that they know what the guidelines are going to be that they will be expected to follow If Congress is not willing to act, the President would be right to use his powers within the Clean Air Act to curb emission.”
Curbing carbon emissions is just the tip of the iceberg for the center though. There are a number of other initiatives Peace claims have the backing of the business community and would help move America in the right direction on climate change issues.
“It’s got to be an all-of-the-above strategy,” Peace said.
“We need nuclear energy, you can’t solve climate issues without nuclear, and you can’t do it without renewable energy. Natural gas will also play a large roll and is very complimentary to renewable energy. Production of electricity with natural gas can be ramped up or down very quickly which can help deal with the intermittent quality of some renewable energy sources.”
Peace said she believes real solutions are available for companies to help the environment, but also knows they will not move forward without an economic incentive to do so.
“I’m a technology optimist. We have technologies that can help us address climate change, but to deploy them we need policies that push and pull them into the market place,” she said.
The Michigan Energy Futures Conference will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Janet Peace will speak at 3 p.m.
Ben Freed covers business for AnnArbor.com. You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Get in touch with Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2