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Kellogg hosts inaugural conference to bring energy, business together

Susan F. Tierney, Managing Principal at Analysis Group and former Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Energy, delivers the first keynote address at Kellogg’s inaugural Energy Conference. The conference, New Energy New Challenges, was organized by the Kellogg Energy Club.

Susan Du/Daily Senior Staffer

Susan F. Tierney, Managing Principal at Analysis Group and former Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Energy, delivers the first keynote address at Kellogg’s inaugural Energy Conference. The conference, New Energy New Challenges, was organized by the Kellogg Energy Club.

Zack Harris, Reporter

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The Kellogg Energy Club hosted business and political leaders on campus Wednesday as part of the inaugural Kellogg Energy Conference.

About 250 students, alumni and conference sponsors attended the all-day conference held at the James L. Allen Center. Attendees included keynote speaker John Bryson, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and former CEO of Edison International, and opening speaker Susan Tierney, a former Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Energy.

The event’s theme was “new energy — new challenges” and was the first student conference focused on energy to ever be held at Kellogg.

Kellogg Energy Club co-president and first year Kellogg student Guy Peterson said the purpose of the event was to demonstrate the relationships between business and energy-related issues.

“Our goal with this event is to show how changing environmental trends affect corporations at large,” Peterson said.

Tierney opened the day’s speeches with her talk on “the evolving energy landscape” across the globe, which focused on electricity. A panel discussion on “the impact of energy on corporate strategy decisions” followed.  Panel members included business executives from five different companies, including McDonald’s and United Airlines.

Bryson closed the conference with the keynote address, during which he spoke about evolving energy demands and the need to act on climate change.

“As a global economy, we need to think about climate change because it is exclusively a global issue,” Bryson said. “We have to find ways that will reach around the world to address this issue.”

Bryson also addressed the United States’ role in leading action on climate change, specifically condemning America’s failure to lead at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

“Not bringing together an agreement at Copenhagen is a huge embarrassment for America,” Bryson said. “I wish to focus on the U.S. as a global economy, China as a global economy, and India as a global economy. We must come together and work together to address the issues of energy and climate change.”

Tierney echoed Bryson’s points during a question-and-answer session following the speech.

“If companies don’t demand action, government will remain in a stalemate on green house gas emissions,” said Tierney.

Although the Energy Club had been trying to host the conference for the past few years, Peterson said increased interest in energy among Kellogg students led to the event’s creation. According to Peterson and the event’s brochure, there has been a 400 percent increase in the number of admitted Kellogg students who named energy a main interest of theirs in their applications.

“As a crossroads between many industries, energy is increasingly at the forefront of political and business dialogue,” conference co-chairs, first year Kellogg student Jitendra Jhalani and second-year Kellogg student Samir Mayekar wrote in a letter to attendees published in the conference’s brochure.

Kellogg Prof. Meghan Busse encouraged students to help make a difference in the way the world uses energy.

“We need brave leadership to change the world, and we want our students to be those leaders.”

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