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Responding to the Global Energy Challenge

With North Carolina State University poised to address global energy challenges, the Institute for Emerging Issues is hosting pre-eminent state, national and international leaders for the 2008 Emerging Issues Forum on Feb. 11-12 at the Jane S. McKimmon Center on campus.

NC State alumnus and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, headlines a diverse group of leaders from across the nation and around the world to inform, engage and mobilize the state to build a plan for North Carolina’s energy future at the 2008 forum.

Driving innovation in energy and the environment was one of the five focus areas for the university that Chancellor James Oblinger outlined in his State of NC State address last fall. The 2008 forum, titled, “North Carolina’s Energy Futures: Realizing a State of Opportunity,” is a key event in that effort, in what has been tabbed the “Year of Energy” at NC State.

“Our state is an importer of energy at a cost of about $16 billion per year,” Oblinger said. “Reversing that equation – even a little bit – would be a long-term economic driver for the state.

“If we’re going to play a lead role in that effort, we have to start on our own campus. We can provide significant leadership from NC State in this high-priority area.”

The breadth and depth of energy-related expertise and NC State gives the university a special responsibility to be fully involved with energy issues. Researchers on campus are already involved in a number of innovative projects, including solar technology, wind power, hydrogen-generated energy, biofuels and sustainable design.

The goal of the forum is to bring together leaders in business, nonprofits, higher education and government to address major issues such as energy and the environment early enough to prepare for future challenges and opportunities. Past forums have addressed financing the future, health care and higher education, among other relevant, timely topics.

Also scheduled to appear at this year’s forum are Thomas Friedman, foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times; Sen. Richard Burr; Gov. Mike Easley; and the presidents and CEOs of Duke Energy and Progress Energy. These and other individuals will address various social, economic and political aspects of energy-related issues.

During the forum, Pachauri will sign a memorandum of understanding with Oblinger at 5:15 p.m. Monday at Vaughn Towers, located at Carter-Finley Stadium. The document promises academic exchanges between NC State and TERI University in New Delhi, India, the university Pachauri serves as director-general.

This year’s forum has already sold out, underscoring the interest and importance in addressing the energy challenges facing the state, nation and world. Those unable to attend the forum can still listen to the speakers live via a link from the institute’s Web site. The speeches also will be archived on the forum’s Look & Listen page, where the addresses can be accessed at a later time.

The forum, along with the university’s research initiatives, demonstrates NC State’s commitment to taking a leadership role in helping solve energy-related issues.

“Over the next 50 years, the issues of energy are going to become more complex and more difficult to solve,” says Dr. Bill Winner, coordinator of activities for the university’s Energy Council. “We must step up our efforts to expose students, staff and faculty members to the pressing need to rethink the way energy is produced, distributed and used.

“NC State as a community is raising the bar and engaging the issues of energy and the critical need we have as an institution to connect our activities with those off campus to carve out a brighter future for North Carolina. The Year of Energy highlights that commitment.”

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