Lack of certainty on climate-change reduction irks N. America aluminum

Dec 21, 2009 | 11:02 AM | Anne Riley

Players in the North American aluminum industry had hoped that a binding agreement out of Copenhagen would give them an indication of what to expect on the domestic climate-change policy front, but no such luck.

Global leaders returned from the two-week summit with no formal agreement to show for their efforts save for the "Copenhagen Accord," a non-binding document that recognizes the need to limit temperature increases but lacks specific targets for achieving that goal.

The leaders' failure to sign a binding agreement is worrisome, since it means each country could choose to move forward on climate-change policy on its own, potentially creating an uneven playing field for global industries like aluminum, North American aluminum producers said.

"All of industry relies on stability and certainty (and) it's really a strong agreement that will create that certainty going forward," said Nigel Steward, vice president of technology sales, operational excellence and climate change at Rio Tinto Alcan. "If a global agreement, a good strong world agreement, isn't formulated, that raises the issue of countries or regions taking local action, so you can end up having distortions. Depending where your aluminum smelters are located, you could be adversely impacted relative to other smelters in other parts of the world. It starts to make things very, very messy in the world."....

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