U.K. urges Texas to address global warming


They came not with crumpets but with PowerPoints, and they served not bangers and mash, but breakfast tacos. Yet on Thursday an auditorium at the Capitol rang with the unmistakable accents of Brits and at one point was graced with an appearance — albeit videotaped – by His Royal Highness Prince Charles.

The occasion was a conference on business risks and opportunities in a carbon-constrained world hosted by the United Kingdom’s Houston consulate and the Environmental Defense Fund.

The conference, attended by legislative aides, corporate officers, and green energy entrepreneurs, was designed to urge Texas lawmakers to address global warming and brief businesses on how they can exploit caps on carbon dioxide.

“If you do nothing, there’s a very real danger in a few years your companies will be uncompetitive and out of date,” Prince Charles said in a video address, taped Jan. 22 at St. Jame’s Palace in London.

Earnest as the event was, it had the risk of appearing presumptuous in a statehouse whose lawmakers tend to look askance at stepping in line with any other state or nation.

The danger was one the organizers clearly recognized: “We’re not in any sense here to present solutions to Texas or tell you what to do,” Paul Lynch, the consul-general, told an audience of about 200.

Jim Marston, the head of the Austin office for Environmental Defense Fund, explained the hosting partnership this way:

“We both have funny accents that people in other states can’t understand. The Brits have royalty, and the people in Texas think they are royalty.”

More seriously, he said, both places have a large oil production industry and have to grapple with external carbon regulations — in the U.K.’s case, from the European Union, in Texas’ case, the prospect of federal rules. British businesses have had to figure out ways to prosper under a carbon-counting regime.

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