Jim Rogers urges US, China energy firms to cooperate on reducing emissions

“I think the most important thing to know is that we need to go to work today to address the issue. This is not going to be cheap, it’s going to cost. It’s not going to be easy, because every way we generate electricity is going to take advances in technology,” says Rogers.

Jim Rogers is the chief executive of Duke Energy, one of the largest power companies in the U.S., with about 4 million customers in the Carolinas and Midwest. At the Copenhagen climate summit in late 2009, Rogers spoke of a new partnership with two Chinese energy firms. Together, they’ll develop solar and other clean energy technologies.

Jim Rogers: I think it’s very important to build a ladder of cooperation between Chinese and US companies, where we are sharing technology, we’re jointly investing in projects, where we’re working together, where we’re building mutual trust and understanding.

Today, both China and the US rely on coal to produce electricity, 80 percent and 50 percent of it from coal respectively. Rogers said a shift is needed now away from coal in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Jim Rogers: This is not going to be cheap, it’s going to cost. It’s not going to be easy, because every way we generate electricity is going to take advances in technology. It’s not going to be quick. This is going to be a multi-decade effort. But the transition’s got to be fair. And most importantly, the one thing that people need to know is that we need to start now, get the rules of the road in place so that we can make the decisions that are necessary for the future.

Rogers said the Chinese company ENN is doing more than just making solar panels.

Jim Rogers: They’re doing research on taking carbon out of flue gas, using it to accelerate the growth of algae, and then harvest the algae to create a biofuel. So they are a very innovative, very creative company.

Some business leaders have been reluctant to support efforts to control the emission of greenhouse gases, especially legislation being considered by the US Senate in the form of the Waxman-Markey climate change bill. Jim Rogers gave his thoughts on the matter.

Jim Rogers
: I think it’s important to recognize that climate legislation could create jobs, help our economy grow. We’re coming out of a recession. The recovery looks anemic. And there’s a great fear that this legislation will exacerbate already touch economic times. I am of the view that this will create more jobs, and as a consequence will stimulate our economy going forward.

Rogers also spoke about the importance of keeping costs down for businesses.

Jim Rogers:
The second thing that other businesses worry about is that this will drive up the price of electricity. And to the extent it does that, it will make them less competitive with companies from around the world. So I think it’s important that any legislation that’s passed allows for a smoothing of the cost increases that are inevitable in a way that allows our industry to compete, and we don’t have further loss of manufacturing in the U.S.

Jorge Salazar