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Business and Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities in a Carbon-Constrained World

12:00AM, 03 March 2008
12:00AM, 03 March 2008
To Be Confirmed
Business and Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities in a Carbon-Constrained World

On 27 February 2008, The Climate Group hosted a conference at the Federal Reserve Bank branch in Houston, Texas.

The conference, Business and Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities in a Carbon-Constrained World, featured presentations and panel discussions on topics such as the link between shareholder value and carbon footprints, insurance risk of climate change and practical steps companies can take to reduce carbon emissions.

Rick Lazio, Executive Vice President of Global Government Affairs and Public Policy with JPMorgan Chase & Company outlined the many steps his company is taking to reduce its carbon footprint. For example, a program to encourage customers to switch from printed paper statements to electronic copies could save as many as 20 million trees. JPMorgan Chase is also seeking Platinum LEED certification for the renovation of its New York City headquarters, piloting over 30 green LEED certified branches in 2008, is looking to improve the energy efficiency at its many data centers and the efficiency of its retail branches. JP Morgan Chase is even seeking to promote awareness among its own employees about the energy-saving value of recycling and other energy-efficiency habits - not just in the office but in their homes.

Pierre Trevet, Managing Director of Innovest, offered evidence of a connection between shareholder value and the level of companies' climate action, showing how the share prices of those companies taking a more proactive approach to reducing their carbon footprint ("the carbon leaders") tend to outperform those which are being more slow to take action ("the carbon laggards").

Mark Newton, Senior Manager of Environmental Sustainability at Dell Inc., outlined how his company is moving from initial steps that reduced the carbon intensity of its operations to asking its suppliers to do the same - and even looking to improve the energy efficiency of its products. Newton commented that environmental sustainability has now become mainstream, and that Dell is now looking at how the company can "take it to the next level," such as going upstream to its suppliers to ask them to do more and further downstream to make its own products more energy efficient.

Mark Way, Senior Vice President, Sustainability & Emerging Risk Management with Swiss Re, pointed out that the increasing uncertainty created by global warming creates challenges for the insurance industry as the past will become a less accurate predictor of the future. Pointing to rising losses from weather-related events, stated that he believes that the cost of inaction will be considerably higher than the cost of taking effective measures to tackle climate change now.

Dell, Inc, one of the world's largest IT companies and number 34 in the Fortune 500, also used the event as an opportunity to announce it had joined The °Climate Group. Read the joint press release here.

Business and Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities in a Carbon-Constrained World was sponsored by the UK Science & Innovation team at the British Consulate General in Houston.

The Climate Group also released a new report, Low Carbon Leader: Texas, at the conference, the latest edition to the Low Carbon Leader series. The reports profiles the progress being made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by the State of Texas, leading cities and major global companies based in the state. For example, incentives put in place under the 1999 Senate Bill 7 helped increase installed wind power capacity 280 percent in only seven years - helping them overtake California as the nation's largest producer of wind power, avoiding three million tonnes of {CO2} emissions and reducing the carbon footprint of every Texan by 250 pounds every year. The city of Houston plans to meet 50 percent of its power needs from wind. Small steps such as retrofitting vending machines in city facilities saved more than US$34,000 per year, while switching light bulbs to more efficient T-8 bulbs saved almost $500,000.

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