Wednesday, September 21, 2022
Thank you, Andrew. I am honored to welcome you all here, as chair to the first Global Clean Energy Action Forum, or GCEAF.
We are here to do something bold. To push the world’s clean energy transition past its tipping point—and propel it dramatically forward.
And what better place to do this than in a city that has remade itself over the last few decades: Pittsburgh.
A city built on coal and steel that is now converting its old coal plants into renewable energy hubs, manufacturing solar panel parts, attracting entrepreneurs in sustainability, and revitalizing its economy in the process.
If clean energy can power that kind of a transformation in Pittsburgh, then it can power that kind of a transformation in any community, anywhere in the world.
So let me thank our local host committee—co-chaired by Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny Conference and Community Development CEO Stefani Pashman, and Carnegie Mellon University President Farnam Jahanian—for giving us the allegory in Allegheny.
Their partnership with the Department of Energy has made this Forum possible. Let’s give them a round of applause.
Over the next two days, we will have delegations from 33 countries, and some 6,300 people taking up this cause. Business executives and labor leaders, NGO chiefs and civil servants, innovators and policymakers, youth activists and community organizers.
And I want to recognize one person, representing one nation, in particular. My friend and colleague, German Galushchenko, Ukrainian Energy Minister.
I first met Minister Galuschenko in August of last year when I attended the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence in Kyiv.
What a difference thirteen months can make.
Minister, we are so grateful you are here, and we are in awe of the courageous sacrifice the Ukrainian people have made in defense of their independence.
I also want to acknowledge that many of our European colleagues cannot be here because they are working to shield their people from the escalating energy emergency that Vladimir Putin has created.
Their absence underscores our purpose.
Between Putin’s weaponization of fossil energy markets, COVID-19’s lingering strain on global supply chains, and the tragic trail of climate catastrophes—like the mass flooding that’s drowning communities in Pakistan, our outsized reliance on fossil fuels has left us in crises of energy security, of national security, and of economic security.
And yet… And yet, I come to you today more hopeful about the future than ever before.
This volatility and disruption could have broken the international community’s commitment to the clean energy transition. Halted our momentum.
Instead, it steeled our resolve.
In the United States, it spurred us to pass the largest package for climate and clean energy action in our history. All told, under President Biden’s leadership, the U.S. is now investing roughly half a trillion in our transition.
And if we look around, we can see the entire world has taken great leaps this year toward clean energy.
Global solar capacity is on track to increase 30 percent. Offshore wind deployment will be twice as high as it was two years ago. All told, the world is set to add over 300 gigawatts of renewable energy this year—an historic amount. And all this clean energy we now have is employing nearly 40 million people worldwide.
That is thanks in no small part to all of you.
Our countries’ embrace of clean energy technologies has moved markets, drawn investments, lowered costs, and created millions of new jobs.
We have proven that a global clean energy transition is viable and desirable.
And we have shown, through initiatives like the Clean Energy Ministerial and Mission Innovation, that collaboration can double and triple the impact of our efforts.
Now is the time to double and triple down on collaboration.
Earlier in the year, I chaired a series of meetings at the International Energy Agency, where member nations—many of them in this room—joined together to avert an oil market crisis.
These were collective steps that, even a few months earlier, observers would have thought impossible to wrangle.
But we met an unprecedented crisis with unprecedented action.
That is the kind of spirit this Forum will attempt to scale.
The next two days are about cooperation.
And they are also about competition. About pushing ourselves to think bigger and act bolder.
And in that spirit, the Department of Energy has come to Pittsburgh with some announcements to roll out.
I’m pleased to share the first tonight: The Industrial Heat Energy Earthshot.
This is the latest entry in our signature Energy Earthshots Initiative—which aims to lower the cost and commercialize critical clean technologies. So far, we’ve set bold, yet achievable goals for clean hydrogen, long-duration storage, carbon removal, enhanced geothermal, and floating offshore wind.
Now, we’re aiming to develop cost-competitive techniques and technologies for industrial production that cut greenhouse gas pollution by 85% or more by 2035.
The industrial sector accounts for roughly 30 percent of our carbon pollution in the U.S., along with a third of our country’s energy use.
We interact with the products from this sector every day. In fact, it’s central to Pittsburgh’s history. Think of the steel in our cars, the cement in our buildings, chemicals, plastics.
But making these things we can’t live without leaves us with carbon pollution we can’t live with.
We believe we can do better.
We can generate heat using clean electricity or zero-carbon sources like nuclear or geothermal. And we can avoid the need for heat entirely by copying nature or trying new chemistry.
Once we unlock these techniques, we can spread them all around the world—giving industry everywhere a boost as our nations look to move faster towards our net-zero goals, and securing a place in the clean energy economy for their workers.
As with so much of our transition, success will depend on collaboration. So I hope some of you will attend one of the two events we’ll be holding on Friday about industrial decarbonization.
This Energy Earthshot is audacious. Ambitious. But it is achievable—if we harness our collective energies and resources.
That’s the lesson of the last decade. And it will be the story of the 21st century.
To quote an American poet, Emily Dickinson:
We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies.
At this Global Clean Energy Action Forum, we are called to rise. Let’s see how high we can reach.
And with that, it’s my pleasure to welcome Carnegie Mellon University President Farnham Jahanian to the stage.