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THE INDEX — November 2, 2009

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GCLS UPDATE: Appetite for Reduction

PANEL: Global Commodity Crunch: Food, Water, Oil, Energy, Trade? Master of Ceremonies: John Authers, Investment Editor, Financial Times Panelists: Badr Jafar, Executive Director, Crescent Petroleum Group Josh Margolis, Co-Chief Executive Director, CantorCO2e Henk-Jan Brinkman, Senior Adviser for Economic Policy, World Food Programme Zachary Karabell, President, River Twice Research Panel summary by Mary Kate Nevin, World Policy Journal After Financial Times journalist John Authers introduced the panel, Badr Jafar examined the issue of oil shortages from an industry perspective, explaining that the "roller coaster" of oil prices in 2008 was precipitated both by oil speculation and the depletion of reserves. As demand for oil steadily increases in China and elsewhere in Asia, the threat of a serious shortage continues to loom portentously. Going forward, investments to increase capacity must come from public-private partnerships, too little of which currently exist, he says. "The next 10 years is going to be crucial in seeing whether we move more towards partnership or more towards conflict." He then addressed carbon emissions, presenting several practical ways to move toward their reduction. The most important thing the world can do is rid itself of its dependence on coal; "by displacing coal with natural gas worldwide," he said, "we can reduce carbon emissions by over 70 percent." He also called attention to rainforest degradation, imploring us to appreciate rainforests' natural carbon capture and storage capabilities and to take action to protect them. Josh Margolis of CantorCO2e, a business focused on environmental rights, also emphasized the urgency of cutting carbon emissions. The United States emits dozens more tons of carbon per person than places like India and China, but that these developing economies strive to someday consume like Americans "keeps [him] up at night." But he was optimistic about the global potential to address the issue, citing America's pending cap-and-trade bill that seeks to cut emissions by 8 billion to 1 billion tons by 2050. "We should never waste an opportunity presented by an acute crisis," he said, and the opportunity is there "if we accept that we really have to solve the problem."

GCLS UPDATE: The Road to Copenhagen and Beyond

PANEL: National Targets, Global Challenge: Climate Change, Copenhagen, and Beyond Master of Ceremonies: Josh Margolis, Co-Chief Executive officer, Cantor CO2e Panelists: Dr. Thomas Malone, Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management Robert Laubacher, Research Associate, MIT Sloan School of Management Aart de Geus, Deputy Secretary General of the OECD Changhua Wu, Greater China Director, The Climate Group Dr. Lisa Randall, Professor of Physics, Harvard University Dr. Gerd Leipold, Executive Director, Greenpeace International Dr. Renate Christ, Secretary, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Dr. Doug Arent, Director, National Renewable Energy Laboratory Center for Strategic Energy Analysis Dr. John Felmy, Chief Economist, American Petroleum Institute Panel summary by Max Currier, World Policy Journal Jeff Felmy began with an impassioned plea: “The first thing we need to do is agree on the facts and then we can talk about policy.” Much of the subsequent discussion focused on diagnosing the problem of climate change from different perspectives without touching much on substantive policy prescriptions, although Aart de Geus did urge governments to levy taxes on emissions to encourage business growth in the “right direction,” and for governments to coordinate their actions “as collectively as possible.” “We’re dealing with a massive market failure,” Changhua Wu said.  Robert Laubacher added another failure, that of the mainstream media in “presenting complexity.” He lamented that the attendant issues (science, geopolitics, law) of climate change are “extraordinarily complex issues” which are “not easily understandable for the lay person.” The panel spent considerable time discussing why too few people support the dramatic changes that are required to substantially reduce carbon emissions.



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