Former EPA chief Gina Mccarthy, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for National Climate Adviser, speaks after Biden announced her nomination among another round of nominees and appointees for his administration in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., December 19, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Valerie Volcovici

National climate advisor Gina McCarthy told oil and gas industry executives on Thursday that rebuilding the COVID-19 battered U.S. economy is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in a rapid transition to clean energy.

McCarthy headlined the CERAWeek virtual conference, where she pitched an optimistic picture of a low-carbon economy based on electric vehicles and renewable energy for the next four years.

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime to reshape the economy in our country and to grab back the supply chain and the jobs that we have lost to other countries,” she told executives of an industry worried about its role in the future.
“We cannot miss the opportunity now to actually invest big in our future,” she said, “because I’m not sure this opportunity will ever come by again, and certainly I don’t want to look for a pandemic to happen again.”

McCarthy stressed that investment in clean energy and vehicles is more of a focus for the Biden administration than regulation and said the auto and utility sectors, who she has been meeting with, acknowledge a transition is already happening.

She said the U.S. Energy and Transportation departments already have resources they can put on the table “that starts building… the momentum for new ideas and new technologies.”

“It’s really important for this not to be just looked at as a regulatory challenge,” she said.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said at CERAWeek on Wednesday that she is ready to reactivate her department’s loan program office that went mostly unused in the last four years and has more than $40 billion in funds to boost the transition to clean energy.

McCarthy said batteries, energy storage, green hydrogen, carbon capture and storage and direct air capture are all technologies that should be invested in and deployed.

—Reuters

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