Text version of opening remarks by John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, at the DOE Hydrogen Shot Summit, August 31, 2021.

John Kerry: Thank you to my good friend, Secretary Granholm, for inviting me to participate in this event, and also to Deputy Secretary Turk for leading this session. I'm really delighted to join you and Bill Gates at the first Hydrogen Shot Summit as we discuss the critical role that hydrogen can and must play in a clean energy transition, and also particularly to enable net-zero emissions by 2050 and keep alive the goal of limiting rising temperatures to 1.5°C.

As we learned earlier this month from the newest IPCC report, the window is closing—and closing fast—for urgent action in order to put the world on a swift path to net-zero and, most importantly, to avert catastrophic consequences. President Biden sent a powerful signal that the United States is reasserting our leadership on global climate action, and he sent that message when he rejoined the Paris Agreement on day one of the administration and then when he hosted leaders from around the world within his first 100 days. At the leaders summit countries representing more than 55% of global GDP expressed ambitious commitments, all of which are consistent with keeping the 1.5°C goal alive.

The United States is already doing its part. President Biden committed the United States to slashing our own emissions by at least half in 2030, and his American jobs plan will make the investments that reach our goals and build clean energy jobs here at home. Still, more than 90% of all future emissions will come from outside our borders. That means that in addition to reducing emissions at home our ability to tackle the climate crisis will require America to speed the global net-zero transition. And the most high-leverage way that we have to do that is through innovation—driving down the cost of critical, clean technologies that can be scaled up and deployed around the world.

The International Energy Agency tells us that reaching net-zero by 2050 will require two critical efforts in this decade to 2030. First, we must deploy available technologies, those that are already cost effective, such as wind and solar power. We must deploy those as fast as we can. And for context, the world must install an equivalent amount of solar to the world's biggest solar farm every single day this decade. Every single one of you knows how far we are from that as we're listening to this today. So, we need to get going.

And second, we must develop, demonstrate, and scale up emerging clean energy technologies. Roughly 50% of the emissions reductions that we need for a net-zero emission goal by 2050 has to come from technologies that are not yet ready for commercial markets. Hydrogen is one of those technologies. We've made a great deal of progress already in driving down the cost of clean hydrogen, but the fact is much more remains to be done in order to make it an affordable way to decarbonize the hardest to abate sectors of our economy, from heavy industry to long-distance trucking, or shipping and aviation.

That's why the Department of Energy's Earthshots program is both so exciting and so important. Each of the Earthshots sets a focused target to slash the cost and boost the performance of a critical clean energy technology—that can then drive decarbonization in every single country on the planet. We're going to marshal America's world-leading national laboratories, private companies, and universities to lead the world in developing the clean technologies of tomorrow. And we'll collaborate on research, development, and demonstration with like-minded partners around the world.

The Hydrogen Shot in particular is critical to meeting our global climate goals. In my travels around the world I can't name a country that hasn't expressed excitement about hydrogen. From Saudi Arabia to India to Germany to Japan we're setting up hydrogen partnerships around the world to advance this critical technology that every country understands has the opportunity to play a vital role in the clean energy transition. Why is this? Because hydrogen offers a way to bridge the gap between the clean energy technologies we have today—such as wind, solar, nuclear, hydro, and geothermal power—and to bridge the gap with a vast set of end uses of energy that aren't yet hooked up to the power grid today.

Hydrogen is also so versatile. You can produce it using clean electricity from renewables or nuclear to split water in electrolyzers, and then you can use it for a myriad of purposes. Hydrogen can be combusted to produce the high temperatures to fuel industrial processes that we rely on today in our fossil fuels, whether it's making chemicals or building materials. Clean hydrogen can serve as a chemical feedstock for industrial processes, whether by reducing iron ore into steel or producing clean fertilizer. And hydrogen can also serve as a fuel, powering a fuel cell vehicle or being transformed into ammonia, methanol, or other liquid fuels in order to power ships and planes.

But even though every country that I've spoken with is excited about hydrogen there's one key stumbling block. Clean hydrogen is today way too expensive. And that's where the Hydrogen Shot comes in. By marshaling American innovation to drive down the cost of clean hydrogen to just one dollar per kilogram by 2030, we can make clean hydrogen an affordable alternative to fossil fuels around the world. And that's the key to countries raising their climate ambition. As I've often said, raising our innovation ambition is the key to raising the world's climate ambition.

So, let me be clear: driving down the cost of clean hydrogen isn't just something we'll do to make it easier for other countries to decarbonize. There's an enormous economic benefit for the United States to lead on developing the clean technologies that will power the world's net-zero transition. Hydrogen alone can be a multitrillion-dollar global market in the coming decades. Industry estimates that the United States could build 700,000 jobs in the hydrogen economy just by 2030. China wants to dominate this market just as they've leaped out to a lead on a range of other clean energy technologies. And that's why the Hydrogen Shot and every Earthshot is so critical for us to build our own competitiveness in the race for the global clean energy market.

I recently spoke with 15 CEOs from the Hydrogen Council, and they were clear that the United States has an opportunity to build a thriving, globally competitive hydrogen industry. That's why President Biden has called for investments in 15 decarbonized hydrogen demonstration projects in distressed communities with a new production tax credit, as well as boosting clean energy research, development, and demonstration to $35 billion per year.

It is time for the United States to step up and to lead by developing next-generation technologies and by producing them right here at home in order to power the world's clean energy transition. There is nothing more important to tackling the climate crisis.

So, thank you again for inviting me to join you to share a few thoughts today at the inaugural Hydrogen Shot Summit. And I'm genuinely excited to see what you all are able to accomplish in this critical decade for climate action for all of us. Thank you.