- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 26, 2009

COPENHAGEN — Business leaders vowed Monday to help world governments set a price on carbon, establishing a market that governments can use to cut greenhouse gases.

“I think we can craft some pretty clear direction,” said Tony Hayward, the chief executive officer of BP PLC.

That approach requires governments to join a new U.N.-administered treaty for regulating greenhouse gases that proponents hope to hammer out by December.

It would set limits on carbon dioxide and then issue permits to companies that would divvy up how much of the overall pollution each of them can emit. Any unused portions could be traded to other companies.

Mr. Hayward said most executives he had spoken with agree the world “is going to establish a carbon price” - making carbon emissions a global commodity, with a universally accepted price, probably through so-called cap and trade by governments and the marketplace.

The other option is a direct carbon tax, favored by some at the meeting.

The predictions came at a global business summit where corporate leaders are focusing on how to help politicians negotiate a new global climate treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Hoping to create a global carbon market, the organizers of a world business summit on climate change said 2 million new jobs would be created in the U.S. alone if it increased its reliance on cleaner sources of energy.

The Copenhagen Climate Council study said the U.S. would gain that many jobs, if its electricity use grew by just half of 1 percent a year and a quarter of its electricity came from wind energy and other renewable sources.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told the CEOs of major international corporations that similar investments could produce a million new jobs in European Union countries.

“Change also brings big economic opportunities,” he said.

In 2007, EU leaders pledged that by 2020 the European Union would cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other major warming gases by at least 20 percent from 1990 levels, and increase its reliance on renewable energy sources to one-fifth of all its energy used.

“Achieving a 20 percent share for renewables, for example, could mean more than a million jobs in this industry by 2020,” Mr. Barroso said. Such a plan must be joined, he said, by “a satisfactory international climate agreement, in which other developed and developing countries contribute their fair share to the limiting of global emissions.”

Mr. Barroso said the EU intends to limit the cost of its package to about half of 1 percent of its GDP.

“Some people, however, have questioned whether this is the right direction for Europe during the economic crisis,” he said, but the answer is that “the costs of climate change will be much higher if we don’t make adjustments now.”

He said the hoped-for December agreement in Copenhagen on a U.N.-administered treaty will be “a major milestone on the path to a global carbon market, which would increase business opportunities, particularly for European industry, and help to bring average carbon costs further down.”

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