Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm
Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue
March 17, 2021
Hello everyone! I’m so excited to deliver my very first international address as Secretary of Energy to all of you today.
Because as President Biden announced last month at the Munich Security Conference, America is back.
We’re back in the Paris Agreement.
We’re back at the table with our partners across the Atlantic.
And we’re ready to go, all in, on tackling the climate emergency with you.
President Biden has put climate priorities front and center in both his domestic and foreign policy agendas.
As you know, he’s appointed John Kerry, a brilliant statesman—and one of the architects of the Paris Agreement—to be his brand-new Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.
He’s got the incredible Gina McCarthy on the domestic side of the house as his National Climate Advisor.
He has a fantastic new Energy Secretary.
And he’s laid out a bold agenda that will set America on an irreversible path towards the goals we all share—including net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
I know the U.S. has said “no” to this fight many times over the last four years. But my friends, today is a new day.
We’re saying “yes” to clean energy innovation. We’re saying “yes” to working with our allies. We’re saying “yes” to putting our resources on the table with yours.
Because we all know that no one country can solve the climate crisis alone. We share this challenge. We share these goals. And together, we’re going to share the solutions.
And I can’t wait to get to work with my counterparts in Germany, the European Union, and governments around the world to make them happen.
Let me be clear though: We are playing catch up with Germany! Although the U.S. may make different choices in how we approach our own energy transition, you and other EU parties have already made some incredible progress.
Germany has slashed greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels, and supercharged their clean energy output.
Last year, Germany generated almost 50 percent of their electricity through renewables—more than all fossil fuels combined.
These are the kinds of results we need to replicate here in the U.S.
Now, there’s one thing you should know about me: I’m an impatient person. I’m impatient for the results here—and I know you are, too.
Our Administration has less than four guaranteed years—that’s less than a thousand days, if you take out weekends—to do so much.
We have to add hundreds and hundreds of gigawatts of renewable energy to our grid.
We have to make that grid more reliable and resilient.
We have to beef up our transmission networks so we can move all that clean energy around the country and connect centers of renewable power to centers of high demand.
We have to protect our critical energy infrastructure against hackers and bad actors.
All this sound familiar? I know these are on your to-do lists, too.
We’re talking about nothing short of a global transformation of the energy sector here.
But if we can pull it off, these investments will deliver so much more than just our climate goals.
If we can pull it off, this energy transformation will be an economic revolution, putting millions of people to work harnessing clean energy.
We can launch the communities that have been left behind into a greener future, make good on the moral debts to those who bore the brunt of our world’s pollution, and are now suffering the devastating impacts of a warming planet—all while creating jobs for our workers that will be in demand for decades to come.
This is what President Biden means when he says we’re going to Build Back Better.
The challenges are great. But I have no doubt we can meet them if we take them on together.
And it all starts by doubling down on researching, developing, and deploying the clean energy technologies of the future.
This is one of my top priorities as Energy Secretary. And I know the United States needs all the big players on the international stage in our corner.
Because when we partner up with our friends around the world, we redefine what’s possible. Just think about what our collaborations with Germany alone have already yielded.
Pre-COVID, thousands of German researchers would come work as guests at the Department of Energy’s National Labs every year. And U.S. researchers would go do the same at German institutions.
By working together, we’ve made ground-breaking discoveries across the basic energy sciences, nuclear physics, particle physics, and so much more.
If we can push the boundaries of particle physics, imagine what we can do when we put our heads together on clean energy solutions.
And now we’re ready to engage in the highest levels of bilateral and multilateral cooperation with any nation ready to work with us.
We have so many forums to work through: the Clean Energy Ministerial, Mission Innovation, IEA Technology Collaboration Programs, the G7, and the G20, just to name a few. All of these need to build momentum to get success in November at the Glasgow climate summit.
We will do our part to get that clean-energy train moving with President Biden’s Global Climate Leaders Summit on April 22.
We can use all of these events to unleash one of the greatest tools we have: the power and innovation of our private sectors.
Both American and German companies are global leaders in deploying clean tech solutions at both the utility and micro scale, in areas like hydrogen, batteries, and energy efficiency.
And here at DOE, we’re putting money in the hands of companies that can bring those solutions to life.
For example, today, we’re announcing $24.5 million in funding to support advances in manufacturing for flow batteries and conductor materials, for next-generation power lines. This will help us modernize the grid, while creating opportunities for new clean energy jobs.
These are the kinds of investments that can help us fuel the net-zero carbon transformation, so we can meet goals of the Paris Agreement in the spirit of collaboration, cooperation, and coordination with our European partners.
The potential is endless. And the upside is obvious: the prosperity and promise our people so deserve.
Because, what do you need to power these clean energy solutions? Millions and millions of jobs—with good pay and good benefits for all.
With all these new technologies we’re going to scale up together, we can create enormous opportunities for companies and workers to seize—on both sides of the Atlantic.
Their investments will lead to explosive job growth, and blow open the doors to whole new parts of the global economy.
Reports estimate that just the initial commitments of the largest 21 developing countries under the Paris Agreement, created a $23 trillion market investment opportunity by 2030.
$23 trillion! That’s huge!
I guarantee you, when people see the clean energy market skyrocketing, they’ll come running to get on board.
This is also our opportunity to make sure those benefits reach communities that have often felt unseen.
I know we share the same vision here, of a just, equitable energy transition that brings everyone along.
Together, we can show coal, oil, and gas-dependent communities in our countries the path towards sustainable, carbon-neutral economies—a path that still protects their economic growth.
Together, we can lift up disadvantaged communities that are living on the frontlines of climate change. We can help them find their way towards cleaner, brighter futures—and help take the strain off their wallets.
That’s the promise the clean energy transformation holds for this world.
And as the world’s leading voices in this space, we have to work hand in glove, and put our nations’ considerable resources behind this effort.
Together we are going to dream up and deploy the big solutions this crisis demands…
Solutions that drive the economic growth and prosperity our workers deserve…
Solutions that kickstart this global transformation, and aim us full speed ahead towards our net-zero carbon future.
This is our moment, folks.
A single moment in the grand arc of history, but our moment nonetheless.
As President Biden said, America is back. And together, with all of you, there’s nothing we can’t do.