SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you very, very much. At the risk of repetition, I think you’ll hear me in violent agreement with my friends and colleagues. But the first thing I want to say is this: It is so critical to us that not only are we having this stakeholders meeting, but that everything we do is infused with the views, the perspectives, the experience of stakeholders. It’s a critical part of the TTC.
One of the things I think we’ve learned – those of us who have been in government for some time now, including myself – is that more than ever before if we do not have stakeholders with us on the takeoff of every big issue, they’re probably not going to be there on the landing, and what we do is not going to be sustainable. So we place tremendous value on having all of you here – but not just today, every day – as we’re working through these challenges. And whether you traveled here in person, whether you’re actually with us virtually today in some fashion, or many who are sharing their views in writing, thank you, thank you, thank you. Because it’s an integral part of this process that we’ve established.
And I also want to give a special shoutout to the students among us here today. It’s a cliché to say that what we’re doing, what we’re working on, will shape the future that you inherit, but there’s another part of that, which is you need – and we’re counting on you – to help us do that shaping. This is not simply something that we’re doing now but we’re eventually going to hand off to you. It’s vitally important that your voices, your views, your perspectives be included. By definition, every new generation has a new way at looking at the challenges that any – that we’re facing at any particular time and none of us have the monopoly on ideas, never mind good ideas. So your engagement’s critical. And again, it’s not just thinking about the future; it’s actual the present, the now, where we really want that engagement.
Working together I think we share the same objective and that is to build a clean infrastructure and develop clean technologies for the future. This has the obvious imperative of addressing the climate challenge. It also – I think we’re convinced – has the tremendous benefit of actually building new economies for the future that are going to be, or certainly can be, powerfully beneficial to all of the constituent elements of those economies, whether it’s our workforce, whether it’s our companies, whether it’s our societies as a whole. Now, none of this happens automatically, none of it’s easy, and we know that there are huge challenges in getting from here to there. But we’re equally convinced that if we are able to do this together, we actually can succeed and can do this effectively.
Some of us just came from a G7 meeting a few weeks ago, where on one level the good news is that the G7 countries, if you look at them, have each made commitments that, if fulfilled – and that’s a big if – would keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. So that’s the sort of good news. The less good news is the same cannot be said of the G20 and the same cannot be said if you go out even beyond the G20. So even in just making sure that we have the appropriate ambitions, again, the G7 is in a pretty good place, but we need to build out from there and that was some of the work that we actually were doing at the G7.
So we have a shared goal. We need to make sure that everyone is adapting and adopting the plans necessary to reach it, but then of course that’s not enough. We actually have to implement it, and that’s really where we know the challenge lies. But again, I think if we’re able to not only have the vision necessary but actually convince all of our constituents that we can – all of us – wind up in a better place, we can get there.
The governments and private sectors have an enormous challenge in actually advancing a fair and efficient clean energy transition at the scale and pace that’s needed to achieve the goals. So it is bringing us up to scale and then, of course, it’s moving quickly on. We all know that the decisions and the actions that we take over the next seven years, the remainder of this decade, are going to determine whether or not we’re able to reach the goals that many of us have set for halfway through the century – 2050.
One other thing I just wanted to emphasize – and it’s something that Valdis and Katherine also touched on – when we’re looking at this question of fairness, we want to ensure not only a level playing field – as vital and as important as that is – we’re also working through the TTC, including – for example, via the semiconductor early warning system that we’ve established through the Clean Energy Incentives Dialogue that you’ve heard alluded to – to try to build sustainable, resilient supply chains that are free, for example, from forced labor, and immune from economic coercion. Those are vital aspects of the future, too, and we have strong constituencies that are insisting that we move in that direction.
We also use the TTC to actually elevate environmental, social, and government standards as we build diverse, sustainable, and secure supply chains. Ultimately what we’re about, if we do things right, is creating a race to the top, not a race to the bottom. And if it’s a race to the top that everyone participates in, no matter where they’re from, no matter which country they are, that’s a good thing, and that’s what we want to encourage.
As you heard Valdis say as well, it’s so vitally important that we coordinate together through the TTC to make sure that, for example, some of the incentives that we’re putting in place to create that race to the top are properly coordinated and don’t actually inadvertently create some kind of zero sum game race to the bottom. On both sides of the Atlantic, we have now unleashed incredibly powerful incentives to try to drive innovation and complement and spur private sector investment, but we’ve got to do it in a way, again, that is complementary. So the incentives dialogue that we’ve established that was announced by President Biden and Commission President von der Leyen back in March not only ensures that the incentive programs are mutually reinforcing but it also facilitates sharing information and also joint action to address the non-market practices that some are engaged in, including China.
Finally, all of this is very resource intensive, but money is not the only challenge that we face. There are other issues that are vitally important that we discussed, all of us together, that are obstacles in the way of faster deployment of clean technology at a scale, so that we can actually make a difference. Developing new clean technologies like solid-state batteries of the future, hydrogen and other clean fuels, carbon-capture technologies – all of these require a whole ecosystem of support beyond simply the financial resources or subsidies that may come along. Creating the technological industrial base on both sides of the Atlantic requires all of us to engage, to do more, and especially to listen to each other, to make the necessary adjustments. Because some of this, it’s so new that there’s trial and error involved. It’s iterative, and we’re going to make mistakes. We have to adjust it.
And we’re taking big bets on ultimately our most important asset, and that’s the innovators and investors, some of whom are in the audience today, who are really fundamentally going to drive all of this progress. Governments, ultimately, I think have to be about facilitating, catalyzing, sometimes simply getting out of the way, as well as making sure that, to the best of our ability, the standards that we set for ourselves that society ultimately wants and demands, that we’re safeguarding those as well. And that’s a challenging balancing act.
So again, I’m really grateful for the fact that we brought everyone here together. I want to thank you for kicking us off. And I think most of us are just eager to listen to our colleagues. Thank you.