Jim Rogers: Business must lead the way in spurring climate ambition

Ilario D'Amato
11 November 2015

Jim Rogers, former Chief Executive Officer of Duke Energy

NEW YORK: The role of business is to be “front and central” in tackling climate change, says Jim Rogers, former Chief Executive Officer of Duke Energy Progress, in The Climate Group’s latest Climate TV interview.

Business has a “huge impact” and “needs to be the driver, to lead the way” on climate action, says Jim Rogers. “And the businesses in the power sector need to be in front of the leaders in the business group.”

However, there are still financial and policy barriers for companies to overcome before they can develop their own low carbon potential and invest in clean energy.

“The good news is the prices of solar and wind are declining,” confirms Jim Rogers. “And so that cost is not as great today as it once was – and it will be even lower in the future.”

While leading businesses are reacting to this trend by investing in renewables – with many joining The Climate Group’s initiative RE100 to showcase how they are going 100% renewable – policy remains key to the transition. “There is a need for leadership in the energy sector as well as from corporations,” says Jim Rogers. “But that leadership only matters when the government steps up and creates policies that basically incentivize and reward people for stepping forward in addressing the climate issue.”

In his book ‘Lighting the World’, Jim Rogers addresses the dramatic issue of the 1.2 billion people in the world that still do not have access to electricity. Talking about the role connecting these communities to renewables can have on development he says: “We start on the road of lifting these people from poverty and allow them to play a meaningful role in society.

It’s not one of those false choices; renewables versus bringing up from poverty. Today, with the cost of renewables at the current level and falling – especially solar – and the rise of storage technology, we’re now at the place we can bring electricity to these villages, we can scale it in a way that matches their capability to pay and their desire for more electricity, and we are doing it using solar electricity.”

The Climate Group recently concluded its successful program Bijli – Clean Energy for All, aimed at connecting rural villages in India without access to electricity to clean energy such as solar-powered LED lamps. After connecting more than 60,000 people, the project is now in a new phase to scale up the economic and health benefits of substituting dangerous kerosene lamps for off-grid solar.

To spur ambition for clean energy on a global scale though, “we need to recruit and engage every CEO, every sustainability officer, every corporation in the US and around the world,” says Jim Rogers. “If we do that, we’re on the way of solving this problem and preparing ourselves for a better future.”

Finally, the critical global COP21 climate talks starting at the end of this month in Paris offer the perfect opportunity to see this kind of future materialize, if negotiators agree a robust climate deal.

Concluding his video interview, Jim Rogers says it is all levels of governments that will make Paris a success. “I believe what you’ll see is commitments at both the city level and regional level. And you will see countries stepping up and making commitments. You’re going to see most of the world engaged in solving this problem.”

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