‘Our generation’s moonshot,’ Energy Secy Granholm on climate change

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm speaks during the daily press conference on April 8, 2021 in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

Energy Minister Jennifer Granholm on Friday stressed the need for the world to come together to tackle climate change, while also highlighting the economic opportunities that the energy transition offers.

“For too long this climate talk has been viewed as a zero-sum game: a compromise – the climate or the economy. Not anymore,” she said on the second day of the climate summit convened by President Biden.

In a speech that was selectively optimistic and called the challenge an “exciting moment,” Granholm stated that the market for clean energy transition will reach at least $ 23 trillion by 2030.

“That means we can all reshape our economies, build new businesses, and get millions and millions of people to work,” she said.

Ahead of the start of the summit on Thursday, Earth Day, President Joe Biden announced a goal of reducing US greenhouse gas emissions between 50% and 52% by the end of the decade.

The goal is the most ambitious in the country. Previous targets set by the Obama administration were emissions reductions between 26% and 28% below 2005 levels through 2025.

At the summit, 40 world leaders came together to announce their own emission reduction targets while advocating a greener future.

Climate was an important pillar of Biden’s campaign, and on his first day in office he rejoined the US with the Paris Agreement. Its recently announced $ 2 trillion infrastructure bill sees spending more than $ 600 billion on climate-related initiatives, including the power grid, electric vehicles, and research funding.

“We need fearless innovation to cut battery costs, commercialize carbon capture, prepare the blue and green hydrogen market, and perhaps most importantly, we need a mindset that overcomes resistance to change. Many stick with the status quo.” Said Granholm.

“Climate disasters around the world tell us the worst thing we can do is nothing at all,” she added, noting that the Department of Energy will announce new targets for various technologies in the coming weeks.

As the US continues to feel the strain of the coronavirus pandemic, Granholm highlighted the opportunity to expand US clean energy infrastructure and the need to bring production to US soil. This will create a whole ecosystem of jobs – from project managers to engineers to technicians and more.

“This is the moon shot of our generation. Less than a decade after Kennedy announced our nation’s decision to go to the moon, we planted an American flag on this crater-like surface and today we decide to resolve the climate crisis,” she said.

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– CNBC’s Emma Newburger contributed to the coverage.

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