Smart impact will be huge opportunity for industry: John Kerry

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On day 2 of the CERAWeek by IHS Markit, there was a plenary session with John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, United States. The session was moderated by Dr. Ernest J. Moniz, President and CEO, Energy Futures Initiative.

US President, Joe Biden, appointed John Kerry as Special President Envoy on Climate to propel the United States back to global leadership on climate change. Global commitments are aligning. Over 125 countries have pledged or are considering commitment to net-zero CO2 emissions. Yet few have aligned climate aspirations with policies, laws, and regulations to achieve them. How will the United States lead internationally to ensure that energy demand, climate aspirations, and energy security intersect?

Dr. Ernest J. Moniz (L) and John Kerry (R). Courtesy: CERAWeek by IHS Markit 2021.

John Kerry said there are climate refugees at different locations. There are food disruptions as well. The President’s plan is to step back in, and lead a sensible, thoughtful approach. There will be about $10 trillion invested over the next 30 years. In about eight months, we will all meet in Glasgow at the UN Climate Change Conference in November 2021. We will also lead the transition to clean energy.

The United States has done well so far with the competition. Climate crisis is not something that will fall victim to the other concerns of the world. China is 30 percent of all emitters. USA is the no. 2. There is no solving this by one country alone, and you also need to have China across the table.

We can deal with this as a compartmentalized issue. We will engage with China. China can be a critical partner in this initiative. We have to get the major emitting nations back together. We are way behind right now in the initiative. Temperatures are predicted to rise. We will hopefully announce the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) at the conference in November. The Biden plan called for net-zero by 2050 and net-zero power by 2035. If we can build smart impact, it will be a huge opportunity for the industry.

India, for instance, is extremely buoyant on solar. There are future possibilities for new supply chains. The one belt, one road, in China is for Chinese-funded entities. One Belt One Road (OBOR), is the brainchild of Chinese President, Xi Jinping. It is an ambitious economic development and commercial project that focuses on improving connectivity and co-operation among multiple countries spread across Asia, Africa, and Europe.

We all need to get much more involved in development. There are companies across the world who are also embracing new technology. Carbon and methane are emerging problems. As Bill Gates said, there are three possibilities before us — storage, fusion and fission.

USA, China and India are three of the major players. India has plans to produce 450GW of renewable power by 2030. They are determined to lead and be an important player. There are some other countries who are prepared to help India. Also, a lot of money has been allocated to wind, power, electric transport. The marketplace is making a critical decision here.

We need a major infrastructure investment. We have a gaping hole in the middle of our country. We also need to have a smart grid. That will not only save huge amounts of money, and also reduce emissions. We have to get rid of some of our chauvinism.

People are looking for solutions today. China had joined us as their citizens were rebelling against the quality of the air and water. People are going to be buying less gas in the future. There will be 500,000 EV charging stations that are going to be built across the USA. You will also get long-haul hydrogen trucks. Europe is also moving to hydrogen vehicles and cars. There is still some resistance to this kind of transformation.

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