US climate summit: Tackling climate change could create millions of jobs, says Biden

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WASHINGTON – Dealing with climate change could create millions of well-paying jobs around the world, US President Joe Biden said at a virtual summit on Friday (April 23).

He touted the benefits that could be reaped by workers and companies, and the money that can be made from the fight against climate change.

“As we transition to a clean-energy future, we must ensure that workers who have thrived in yesterday’s and today’s industries have as bright a tomorrow in the new industries,” said Mr Biden, whose administration is proposing a US$2 trillion (S$2.7 trillion) infrastructure and jobs package to tackle climate change and transform America’s economy.

“Nations that work together to invest in a clean economy will reap rewards for their citizens,” he added.

While the first day of the climate summit was full of big promises, including the US’ vow to halve carbon emissions based on 2005 levels by 2030, the second day focused on concrete ways to achieve those targets and the economic benefits of doing so.

Tremendous innovation is needed to enable the world’s switch from fossil fuels to clean energy, industry and world leaders said at the virtual summit.

“Using just today’s technologies won’t allow us to meet these ambitious goals,” said Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, adding that almost all zero-carbon technologies are more expensive than their fossil fuel counterparts.

“We need new, zero-carbon products that are just as affordable,” said Mr Gates during a session on climate innovation, which focused on the importance of pumping public and private money into innovation.

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm highlighted her department’s work in research and development to “unlock major breakthroughs” so America can deploy renewables at scale by the end of the decade.

The Energy Department aims to cut the price of solar energy in half yet again by 2030, and also wants to lower the cost of clean, renewable hydrogen by 80 per cent before 2030, making it competitive with natural gas, she said.

It also seeks to slash battery cell prices in half again and reduce the need for critical