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Shell CEO urges Senate action on climate change

Hearst Newspapers – Published: October 16, 2009

WASHINGTON — Royal Dutch Shell Chairman Jorma Ollila on Thursday urged the U.S. Senate to make clear progress on legislation capping greenhouse gas emissions before international climate change negotiations in December.

Although the House has passed broad legislation to limit carbon dioxide emissions, the prospects are murkier in the Senate where Democratic leaders have signaled that the issue may not be debated until next year.

In remarks at the National Press Club, Ollila suggested that Senate inaction could undermine negotiations on a global climate change pact.

“As the world prepares for climate negotiations in Copenhagen, we must see American leadership, backed by its own domestic actions on climate legislation,” Ollila said.

Ollila noted that “the U.S. is an important player” in the negotiations and that world leaders will be closely studying the Obama administration’s approach — as well as that of developing countries such as China and India.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, set to begin Dec. 7 in Copenhagen, will consider plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

The Obama administration had hoped it would have more leverage in the international negotiations with a congressional mandate for greenhouse gas reductions in the U.S.

U.S. businesses generally have said they want to see developing countries agree to similar greenhouse gas emissions cuts as part of any international agreement. Without similar commitments from China and India to impose limits and a price on carbon dioxide emissions, they fear, U.S. companies could be put at a competitive disadvantage.

Ollila said he has been encouraged by “a lot of very positive signals” from the leaders of India and China.

Ollila acknowledged that his comments — and Shell’s support of greenhouse gas emissions cuts — put him at odds with some lobbying by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce against climate change legislation.

In recent weeks, several companies, including Exelon and Pacific Gas & Electric, have severed ties or limited their connection with the chamber over the issue. Shell remains in the group, though Ollila noted that there was “a disagreement” over climate change.

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