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Duke Energy to Lobby for Carbon Tax

7 April 2005

AP. The chairman of Duke Energy Corp said that his company will lobby for a tax on carbon dioxide emissions that would reduce fossil fuel consumption and begin dealing with the global warming problem.

“Personally, I feel the time has come to act—to take steps as a nation to reduce the carbon intensity of our economy,” Paul Anderson told several hundred Charlotte business and civil leaders at a breakfast meeting. “And it’s going to take all of us to do it.”

Anderson acknowledged a national carbon tax would mean bigger utility bills and higher prices at the gas pump. But unless industry leaders take the lead, he said, the long-term outcome could be even more disastrous.

“If we (the U.S. energy industry) ignore the issue, we would be the easy target,” he said. “The worst scenario would be if all 50 states took separate actions and we have to comply with 50 different laws.”

Duke Power Co., Duke Energy’s regulated utility, relies heavily on coal and nuclear energy to produce nearly all its power.

Coincidentally—and antipodally—members of the Australian coal industries were meeting in Sydney in the first conference of the Coal-21 program.

Coal-21 is a program aimed at pushing the potential of advanced technologies to reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions associated with the use of coal. The program is also exploring coal’s potential role as a source of hydrogen.

Black coal is Australia’s most important commodity export, and black (58%) and brown coal (27%) combined account for 85% of Australia’s electricity supply. The use of coal in electric power generation also accounts for about 38% per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The goal the coal industry is setting itself is the reduction or elimination of the emissions, while maintaining the benefits.

Eileen Clausen, President of the Pew Center on Climate Change, addressed the Coal-21 conference this week. The full text of her speech is here.

This morning, I have made 2 predictions: carbon constraints are coming; and coal will remain a crucial source of energy throughout the world.  And I have talked about how we can reconcile these facts in two ways: first, by making a much more vigorous commitment to technologies that will reduce the environmental impact of coal generation; and, second, by advancing broader public policies to mobilize real action on the climate issue both in our domestic economies and worldwide.

I believe the only way to address this problem successfully is to unleash a global technological revolution.  And the goal of governments, acting multilaterally and within their own borders, must be to adopt policies and strategies that spur this revolution on.

In Australia, in America and throughout the world, businesses continue to receive mixed signals from their governments about whether or not we are serious about addressing this challenge.  It is time to erase all the doubts and the uncertainty.  It is time to act boldly, government and industry together, to embrace the importance of both technology and public policy in protecting the climate we share.

Companies may well end up taking the lead in this, as Honda and Toyota did in pushing ahead with hybrids even in the absence of a widely-recognized business case.

April 7, 2005 in Climate Change, Emissions, Fuel Efficiency, Policy | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (1)

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Comments

Hallelujah! The healing has begun. Ultimately, of course, coal cannot be used as a significant energy source, so the Coal-21 program is only a first step on the road of consciousness-raising.
Just as hybrid cars are the available technology which moots the phantom of fuel cell cars, so will nuclear power moot the phantom of greenhouse-gas-neutral coal power.

Or how about a motivation for fossil fuel companies: while coal isn't near the limit of production, oil appears to be. It might be in the best interest of oil companies to lobby for carbon taxes, fuel taxes, to keep demand and supply in better balance. Until now this hasn't been an issue, but if peak production has been reached, perhaps oil companies will lobby to moderate demand... and coincidentally green their images. Healing indeed!

I have blogged a response here.

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