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Midwest Climate and Energy Summit

12:00AM, 25 June 2008
12:00AM, 25 June 2008
To Be Confirmed
Midwest Climate and Energy Summit

On June 25, 2008 The °Climate Group hosted its first major event in the City of Chicago, working with the British Consulate General as well as representatives from the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The event, the Midwest Climate & Energy Summit, featured speakers from both sides of the Atlantic discussing the challenges and opportunities for regions with strong manufacturing bases in adapting to the coming low-carbon economy.

More than 100 business, government, NGO and academic leaders from the greater Chicago area gathered to learn from the experiences in the UK and the Netherlands in driving down emissions and saving money in the process. The presenters also spoke about how the need to address climate change has driven the development of new sources of economic vitality.

Most importantly, a clear evolution in thinking among participants representing both government and the business community was evident. In the past, discussion and questions tended to focus on concerns over the impact of climate change action. The participants at this summit were far more focused on devising solutions and crafting plans to play a leadership role on the issue.

Phil Woolas MP, Minister of State (Environment) with the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, speaking by video link, outlined how he expects more than one million green collar jobs to be created in the UK.

Meanwhile, Bruce Fletcher, Chief Retail Credit Officer with HSBC North America, outlined how that organisation is benefiting from its green efforts, as its evolution as a green brand helps it build its customer base, which in turn drives expansion. HSBC now has more than 5,000 employees in the State of Illinois.

David Sparby, acting President & CEO of Northern States Power in Minnesota, outlined how his company has set a goal of securing 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, and is expanding its wind energy portfolio in Minnesota and South Dakota.

Pat Ryan, Chairman and CEO of Chicago 2016, and Chris Walker, North America Director of The °Climate Group, also unveiled an unprecedented initiative that links major businesses with an array of non-profit organisations to launch a comprehensive "greening" initiative in the city of Chicago in collaboration with Chicago's 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic games bid.

Panelists also examined how they can rapidly implement energy efficiency measures to capture the low-hanging fruit while they await more clear direction on the specifics of future government policy. There was consensus that a lot can be done right now, but that to fully realise the opportunities in areas such as carbon trading, clear policy direction was needed. Discussion also explored how to make the most of business opportunities presented by the shift towards a low-carbon economy, and how the change offers an opportunity to revitalise local economies in the Midwest.

The agenda also featured panel discussions on carbon markets, moderated by Dr. Michael Walsh, Executive Vice President of the Chicago Climate Exchange, and on corporate climate strategies, moderated by Henry Henderson of NRDC and Robert Frei Jr., Partner, McKinsey & Co.

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