UN Foundation’s Leadership Challenges Energy Industry to Look for Opportunities in Alternative Energy Economy

Washington, DC; Houston, TX

February 7, 2007


Megan Rabbitt

The United Nations Foundation’s senior leadership – Board Chairman Ted Turner and President Timothy E. Wirth – in Houston challenged leading energy executives and national policy leaders today to embrace the powerful opportunities available in the alternative fuels arena. Speaking to a group of more than 800 people in Houston at a luncheon sponsored by the World Affairs Council, the two discussed the ways in which companies can embrace – and profit from – the new energy future that we are approaching, particularly in the area of energy efficiency and alternative fuels.

“Energy policy is all about getting the rules right. For economic, environmental, and security reasons, the energy economy is being transformed, and we’ve got to get the rules right so that this new frontier of opportunity is opened up to business enterprise,” said Turner.

“Earlier this month, the world’s leading scientists announced a consensus agreement that the Earth is warming, that we humans are primarily responsible for this, and that, if we don’t change our ways, we will alter our planet forever. There is no doubt that the global climate is changing and, therefore, that the global energy economy must be transformed,” said Wirth, referencing the recent report published by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “Our message today is: embrace this transformation. Get ahead of the curve because the opportunity is immense. This transformation is occurring so rapidly that business leaders have two choices – lead or be left behind.”

“We just can’t continue on the energy path we are on. It’s too dangerous in terms of its economic and political risks, and it’s ruinous to our climate,” said Turner. “We need to move away from our oil dependence and towards a future that embraces alternative fuels. There are some who would see that change as a threat to their livelihoods; they are missing the boat. Change creates opportunity, and there are boundless opportunities emerging from the transition we are beginning to a new energy future.”

The pair, and the event’s moderator, Matt Simmons of Simmons and Co., also discussed the future of energy policy in Washington given the new makeup of Congress and the efforts by the United Nations to build consensus for new, international policies related to energy and climate change.

Turner, the founder of CNN, is an entrepreneur, environmentalist, and philanthropist. To support the activities of the United Nations, he created the United Nations Foundation with an historic $1 billion gift. Turner recently partnered with New Jersey-based Dome-Tech Solar to launch a new business venture to provide clean power solutions. The Turner renewable energy company, DT Solar, will be one of the nation’s largest developers of on-site solar power generation. Turner is also chairman of the Turner Foundation, which supports efforts for improving air and water quality, developing a sustainable energy future to protect the climate, and safeguarding environmental health.

Wirth, a former Senator from Colorado, has been involved in U.S. energy policymaking for 30 years, including 18 years in Congress. In 1988, he introduced the first major global warming policy legislation, many provisions of which were included in the 1992 Energy Policy Act. As Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs in the Clinton Administration, Wirth oversaw U.S. climate negotiations, including in the run-up to the Kyoto Protocol. Wirth has been president of the UN Foundation since its inception in 1998.

Both men are also on the steering committee of the Energy Future Coalition which is a broad-based, nonpartisan alliance that seeks to bridge the differences among business, labor, and environmental groups and identify energy policy options with broad political support.


About the United Nations Foundation
The UN Foundation was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. The UN Foundation builds and implements public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems and also works to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach. The UN Foundation is a public charity. For a complete listing of UN Foundation grants and programs or to learn more about the United Nations Foundation, visit www.unfoundation.org.

Katherine Miller 
Communications Director
United Nations Foundation
Amy DiElsi 
Press Secretary
United Nations Foundation