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Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

CITRIS co-sponsors Copenhagen climate and energy conference as lead-in to 2009 UN meeting

– Some 250 of the world's leading climate and energy researchers, industry representatives and government leaders will convene on Thursday, June 19, in Copenhagen, Denmark, for an international research summit sponsored by the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) at the University of California, Berkeley, in partnership with the Copenhagen Climate Council.

The conference, "Unlocking the Climate Code: Innovation in Climate and Energy," aims to identify the critical research and development achievements necessary for a successful transition to a low carbon economy. Conference participants will present and debate relevant policy and business models that can support technology innovation in carbon emissions reduction.

"It is our hope that the summit helps produce a framework for dialogue and innovation for the alleviation of the effects of global warming," said Gary Baldwin, executive director of CITRIS. "It is a tremendous honor for us to be a part of this international effort to produce workable solutions for climate change."

The conference was convened upon request by Denmark's Ministries of Climate and Energy and of Science, Technology and Innovation. Monday Morning, an independent think tank based in Denmark that provides in-depth analysis on key issues of the day for use by decision makers, worked with CITRIS, the Copenhagen Climate Council, the Danish government and the University of Copenhagen to help organize the event.

The climate framework would be a means to set priorities in future energy research and development, and serve as a basis for new collaborative research projects and programs collectively known as the Global Research Alliance on Climate and Energy (GRACE).

The results of the conference will be delivered to the Danish government, which hosts the next United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2009.

"The 2009 U.N. climate summit will be the last chance for world leaders to agree on a new protocol to replace the Kyoto agreement before it expires in 2012," said Niels Christian Nielsen, a board member of Monday Morning and former director of the Danish Technology Institute. "Next week's conference kicks off a series of international meetings meant to help ensure the success of that 2009 summit."

Nobel Laureate Steve Chu, who is a UC Berkeley physics professor, director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and an outspoken advocate of research to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will give the conference's keynote speech.

"The scientific verdict on climate change is long-since decided; we must act now, not in a decade, but now," said conference co-organizer Daniel Kammen, UC Berkeley professor of energy and resources and founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory. "The financial case has also become clear: It is past time to create the new clean and low-carbon energy economy. The Copenhagen Climate Council is the right venue at the right time to forge new understanding of the opportunities to blend best science with progressive economics to create new business opportunities that can bring about the energy system we want, not just tinker with the one we inherited."

Conference co-organizer John Zysman, professor of political science and co-director at UC Berkeley of the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy, pointed out that the scale of changes required to protect against the potentially catastrophic effects of global warming necessitates the engagement of the international community. "The low emissions economy of the future can only be built by a policy that enables interplay between a portfolio of technological innovation supported through changes in business models and public policy," said Zysman.

In addition to Kammen and Zysman, Chu will be joined by the following UC Berkeley colleagues:

  • Beth Burnside, vice chancellor for research and professor of molecular and cell biology
  • W. Michael Hanemann, professor of agricultural and resource economics and director of UC Berkeley's California Climate Change Center
  • Jay Keasling, professor of chemical engineering and director of the Physical Biosciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)
  • Arun Majumdar, professor of mechanical engineering, director of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at LBNL and chair of the Advisory Committee of the Engineering Directorate of the National Science Foundation
  • Shankar Sastry, professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences and dean of the College of Engineering and former director of CITRIS
  • Laura Tyson, professor of business administration and economics and former national economic adviser to President Clinton
  • Paul Wright, professor of mechanical engineering, acting director of CITRIS and conference co-organizer

Other experts will include Tim Flannery, scientist, author and chairman of the Copenhagen Climate Council; and James E. Rodgers, president and CEO of Duke Energy Corporation, chairman of the Institute for Electric Efficiency and the Edison Foundation, and co-chair of the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency and the Alliance to Save Energy

Thursday's conference will be preceded by a workshop on Wednesday, June 18, in which a select group of leading scientists, business strategists and policy innovators will discuss key challenges and identify opportunities for innovation in energy production, distribution and use.

More information about the conference, including the program agenda and list of speakers, is available at the Copenhagen Climate Council Home page.