UK, Group Urge Texas to Prepare for Low-Carbon World

Texas' Changing Economic Climate: Risks and Opportunities in a Carbon-Constrained World, hosted by the British Consulate-General Houston and the Environmental Defense Fund recently, brought together more than 200 business, government, and nongovernmental organization leaders to discuss actions Texas needs to take to stay competitive in the coming low-carbon economy.

Dimitri Zenghelis, chief economist on the Stern Team; Mattia Romani, senior economist on the Stern Team; David Vincent, director of projects, the Carbon Trust; and Jamie Fine, Ph.D., EDF economy and policy scientist; were among the presenters.

"We have a unique opportunity to share with Texas' political and business leadership the lessons we've learned over several years," said Consul General Paul Lynch. "The questions raised in the state legislature are not unlike those we raised when we started. To be sure, they are difficult, but we now offer our best practices to accelerate the state's move to a new low-carbon world. We chose to move early and will reap the economic benefits. It is timely for Texas to share in this journey and prosper."

EDF Director of State Climate Initiatives Jim Marston said, "While our state leaders are still deliberating the concept of global warming, consensus elsewhere has other states leaping ahead of Texas in attracting new energy investment. By passing along lessons learned from countries that were early movers, the UK is offering Texas a leg up in the regulatory and economic climate change conversation."

Also announced at the conference were the results of several new EDF reports, including "Texas at a Crossroads: The Case for Addressing Global Warming in Texas," which outlines the immediate need for legislative climate action in Texas and the adverse environmental and economic impacts of inaction. The policy summary makes a case for Texas lawmakers to constructively engage in the federal policy debate while enacting state-based measures to begin reducing emissions, attracting clean technology industries, and proactively preparing for carbon regulations and unavoidable climate impacts.

Summary findings from another EDF study found that considerable opportunity exists for Texas to save $30 billion annually by 2030 using proven energy efficiency measures. "Costs and Benefits of Energy Efficiency Investments in Texas Commercial and Residential Buildings, Power Plants, and Vehicles," also found that efficiency investments in buildings, vehicles, and power plants can combine to avoid well over 50 millions metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually by 2030. The economic opportunities are equally impressive with a possible $25 billion in electricity-bill savings in the commercial sector and another $11 billion for residential. Vehicle efficiency improvements by 2030 can save drivers over $4 billion at the pumps while avoiding about 1.6 billion gallons of fuel use.

Topics of other studies presented at the conference included socio-economic impacts of sea level rise, climate change impacts on large Texas cities, and implications of climate change for water resources. All studies are posted at http://www.liveoakinitiative.com/TCEC09.html

The Houston Advanced Research Center also announced the release of the Texas Climate Initiative and Texas Climate News, two unique informational resources on climate change and sustainability available at www.texasclimate.org and www.texasclimatenews.org, respectively.

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