Remarks as delivered by Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm
COP26 Energy Day Opening Plenary: Accelerating a Just and Inclusive Energy Transition
Thursday, November 4, 2021
Thank you, Vic. My thanks also to State Secretary Kwarteng and the entire UK delegation for their incredible work in organizing this Declaration.
So, we’ve all talked about it. We all know that we face a great challenge in eliminating carbon pollution and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. But, as has been said, the opportunity at hand is even greater.
Clean energy is an engine that will get us to our net-zero future, and bring all communities along—fossil communities, frontline communities.
I know this because I have seen it firsthand. Just, quickly, a personal experience.
In 2009, the Great Recession tore through particularly the American auto industry—an industry that was reliant on the internal combustion engine. Hundreds of thousands lost their jobs in the state of Michigan, where I was governor. We had the highest unemployment rate in the nation.
The pain I saw in the eyes of workers who had the rug pulled out from under them, through no fault of their own… That pain has seared my soul. I became obsessed with how we can create jobs in clean energy to diversify our economy.
And with massive federal, and state, and private sector investments, we in Michigan began focusing on electric vehicles and their supply chains—the batteries, the guts to those vehicles. And employment rebounded as we re-anchored local economies all across the state.
Today, Michigan is a national leader in EV manufacturing. The internal combustion engine companies set their sights now on one half of their fleets being electric by 2030. Lineworkers who once assembled gas-powered vehicles are now building electric cars and trucks. And an industry that was once dependent on fossil fuels is accelerating toward the clean energy future.
President Biden is quintupling down on the investment strategy that enabled Michigan’s shift. All told, his Build Back Better Agenda will invest $800 billion in clean energy and climate action.
That is an historic amount. And it’s all about growing the pie by orders of magnitude through clean energy buildout—creating jobs, jobs, and more jobs.
Jobs in solar, and wind, and hydropower, and nuclear, that will ease the burdens of carbon pollution. Jobs in EVs and batteries and storage that will get factories humming. Jobs in carbon capture, and geothermal, and clean hydrogen, that will demand skills that fossil fuel workers already have.
Jobs for electricians and technicians, and carpenters and engineers, and miners and smelters, and steelworkers and lineworkers, and a whole host of journeymen and women.
Our goal is not simply replacing one industry with another. It’s using the enormous talent within our communities to build a more diversified, resilient economy that can address longstanding inequities. One that can offer stability, sustainability, and safety to all who take part—and one big enough for anyone and everyone who wants to take part.
The global market for clean energy technologies will reach $23 trillion by 2030. $23 trillion.
That’s what’s on the other side of this transition—truly sustainable economic growth that will keep expanding as more countries jump into that market.
That’s why we’re pledging support for developing nations as they work to stake their own claims in this clean energy opportunity.
And in many respects, we are catching up to the UK and other countries who have been working toward these goals for years.
We are eager to play our part in this global effort to build a more resilient, equitable economy. We are back. And we are ready to partner.