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Edison International CEO Addresses U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit

The summit discussed efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions by both countries.

For two days this week, Southern California was the focal point of worldwide efforts to combat global warming. Climate change negotiators from the United States and China met in Los Angeles on Tuesday and Wednesday to announce joint actions by cities, states and provinces in the two countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit, hosted by the city of Los Angeles and Mayor Eric Garcetti, included addresses by Vice President Joe Biden and California Gov. Jerry Brown. The meeting was a follow-up to the historic accord reached in Beijing in November by President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who pledged to implement policies to significantly reduce emissions.

Edison International was a major corporate sponsor of the event, and Edison Chairman and CEO Ted Craver was one of the keynote speakers.

Craver told the gathering that it was fitting that this summit was being held in California, a state that has long been at the forefront of environmental protection and global climate change policy. He reminded the audience of California’s decades-long efforts to reduce air pollution and how Southern California Edison (SCE) started contributing to that success with research and development into smog abatement technologies in the 1950s. He noted that California’s experience in combatting smog can offer a roadmap for addressing global climate change.

He then outlined Edison’s role in helping California and the nation meet carbon emission reduction goals.

“Frequently, environmental objectives can be seen as incompatible with economic growth; that we must choose which one to emphasize. At Edison, we reject that premise as defeatist and short-sighted,” Craver said. “We believe it is possible to meet both environmental objectives and have economic prosperity. Innovation, ingenuity, private capital and well-functioning markets — coupled with thoughtful, flexible, public-policies focused on long-term outcomes — make it possible to meet both objectives.

“At Edison, we believe it is our responsibility — and our opportunity — to help devise the solutions to create the low-carbon and prosperous economy that the people of California want. Working with our industry partners and policy-makers, we hope we can create a model and inspire those far beyond our state.”

Key to developing a low-carbon economy is building a modern electric power grid, he said — a project that Edison is undertaking to better enable clean-energy technologies such as solar power and electric vehicles.

Craver was followed as a CEO keynote speaker by Li Chunguang, president of Sinopec Corp. of China, who described his company’s efforts in carbon capture and sequestration, methane gas recovery and carbon trading. He called for “harmonious development between company, nature and society.”

“We should be conscious of the upper limit of energy consumption and bottom line of environmental quality … so as to make our sky bluer, land greener and cities better,” he said, through an interpreter.

At this week’s summit, China and the U.S. announced, among other things, an arrangement between local governments in China and California to begin developing cap and trade programs in China. Also, 10 cities from China will team with 10 from California in an initiative to cut air pollution and develop clean-technology industries.

Gov. Brown called on cities and their governments to take the lead on cutting carbon dioxide, given the enormous impact of urbanization on greenhouse gas emissions. “Mankind has to rise to this incredible existential challenge,” he said.

Biden, who closed the summit on Wednesday, urged continued investment by both the U.S. and China in clean energy technologies. He called climate change “the single most consequential issue of our time.”

Edison International also held a reception for attendees on Monday night, hosted by Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Gaddi Vasquez, and on Wednesday, Caroline McAndrews, SCE’s director of Preferred Resources Project, participated in a panel discussion on low-carbon energy.

To learn more about the summit, go to lamayor.org/climatesummit2015.