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U.S. Climate Action Symposium: A Global Economic Perspective

March 3, 2009

Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

U.S. Climate Action SymposiumFormer UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s climate envoy, Todd Stern were among the high-level participants at the March 3rd symposium, ‘U.S. Climate Change Action: A Global Economic Perspective,' meeting with U.S. legislators, business leaders, and academics on Capitol Hill to discuss the challenges and opportunities for U.S. leadership on climate change.

The one-day bipartisan event was co-sponsored by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), John McCain (R-AZ), Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). The event was organized by three leading Washington think tanks: the Center for Global Development (CGD), the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and the World Resources Institute (WRI), together with the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), which is chaired by the economist, Nicholas Stern, author of the highly influential report ‘The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review’ in 2006.

The symposium opened with a high-level morning discussion about how to advance U.S. climate policy in light of the global economic context and the upcoming climate change negotiations in December 2009. Participants in the morning session included over a dozen members of Congress, state governors, CEOs, distinguished economists, and international climate policy leaders. The conversation was followed by a press conference to discuss the themes and key outcomes of the discussion.

U.S. Climate Action Symposium

The symposium continued in the afternoon with several presentations on key aspects of the climate change debate, including the costs of inaction, managing the costs of climate policy, pursuing the opportunities of a low-carbon economy, and reaching a global solution. State Department envoy Todd Stern provided the luncheon keynote address, following opening remarks by CGD president Nancy Birdsall and other co-sponsor partners. National Journal’s Margaret Kriz moderated the afternoon panel discussions.

Later in the week on March 5th, CGD senior fellow David Wheeler participated in a coordinated side event panel discussion, The Challenge of Development in a More Hostile Climate, to discuss the specific role of multilateral development banks in supporting sustainable low-carbon development.

Symposium Agenda and Video

Press conference

Opening Remarks

  • Fred Bergsten, Director, Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE)
  • Nancy Birdsall, President, Center for Global Development (CGD)
  • Jonathan Lash, President, World Resources Institute (WRI)
  • Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, Patel Chair and Director, LSE Asia Research Center
  • Keynote Speaker: Todd Stern, Special Envoy on Climate Change, U.S. Department of State

Session One: Business as usual is not sustainable

  • Professor Lord Nicholas Stern
  • Bill Cline, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • The Honorable John Warner, Former U.S. Senator from Virginia

Session Two: The Costs of Domestic Action on Climate Change and How to Contain Them

  • Jeremy Oppenheim, Director, McKinsey and Company
  • Trevor Houser, Visiting Fellow; Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Gary Hufbauer, Senior Fellow; Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Jim Rogers, Chief Executive Office, Duke Energy Corporation

Session Three: What are the Economic Opportunities on the Pathway to a Low Carbon Economy?

  • Gerry Hudson, Executive Vice President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
  • Vinod Khosla,Founder & Partner, Khosla Ventures and Founder of Sun Microsystems
  • Steven Fludder,Vice President, ecomagination, GE (invited)

Session Four: Towards an International Framework

  • The Honorable Connie Hedegaard, Minister of Climate and Energy, Denmark
  • The Honorable Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Climate and Energy, U.K.
  • Zhou Dadi, Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission, China
  • Nigel Purvis, President, Climate Advisers