Remarks of Dr. Eric Lander, Science Advisor to the President at The American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall 2021 Meeting
“The Scientific and Technological Pathway to 2050: Our Innovation Agenda for Climate and Energy”
As Prepared for Delivery in New Orleans, Louisiana
Good morning. I’m delighted to be here in New Orleans at the AGU Fall Meeting.
I want to start with a huge thank-you to the whole science and technology community — the 60,000 members of the AGU, as well as everyone around the world working on climate and energy — including earth scientists, space scientists, ocean scientists, climate scientists, computer scientists, physicists, chemists, energy technologists and engineers, and so many more.
You are the reason we know about the climate crisis. And, you are the reason we’ll be able to respond effectively to the climate crisis. Your work is so important — and I bring thanks from President Biden for what you’re doing.
I want to give a special shout out to the hundreds of scientists from around the world, who reviewed 14,000 scientific papers to create the recent IPCC Working Group I Physical Science report.
This year, people around the world saw with their own eyes: wildfires in the American West that reduced towns to ash and turned skies red; a deep freeze in the Deep South so cold that the power grid failed, causing food, water, and heat shortages; thousand-year floods that put European cities under 10 feet of water; severe droughts, unrelenting heat waves, and unyielding storms around the world.
But, it was thanks to your science that we now have hard evidence that many of these extreme events are attributable, in large measure, to climate change.
The IPCC report — powered by geophysical research — showed sobering scientific facts. As you all well know: sea-level rise, faster than in the last 3,000 years; ocean warming, faster than in the past 11,000 years; atmospheric carbon, at its highest level in 2 million years.
There are also warning signs of possible tipping points, and hard-to-reverse events, in the physical climate system — related to permafrost thaw, ice melt, Amazon deforestation, slowing of the Atlantic overturning current, and more.
And, there are potential negative societal tipping points too. Here’s a financial example: People who take 30-year mortgages have to buy property insurance each year. But, insurers are becoming reluctant to cover properties in some parts of the country due to growing risk of climate-related damage. If people can’t get affordable insurance, properties will become harder to sell and their values will drop. In short, if we don’t all get serious about cutting emissions, housing at risk from sea-level rise may be underwater financially long before it’s underwater physically.
We’ve got our work cut out for us! And the clock is ticking. It’s going to take a whole world working together. But scientists and technologists have a special responsibility. And, nations like the United States, with advanced science and technology capacities, have a special responsibility too.
So, I’m going to divide my remarks into two parts.
First, I want to talk about what President Biden and the U.S. government are doing to combat climate change — including our legislative and diplomatic work.
And then, I want to talk about what comes next — about the innovation agenda for climate and energy — and why scientists and technologists — all of you — are essential drivers for the work ahead.
Under President Biden’s leadership, the U.S. government is responding to the climate crisis like never before.
And before I go on, I have to tell you: President Biden really loves science. To him, science represents one of America’s most defining qualities — the sense of possibilities. Where others see limitations and obstacles, Americans see possibilities. And the President knows, science and technology can make the impossible possible.
That’s why, on everything — from the pandemic, to the climate crisis, to so much more — President Biden is leading with science, and putting science into action. And, for the first time in U.S. history, he’s given science a seat at the table in the President’s Cabinet.
When it comes to climate and energy, the Biden-Harris agenda is historic. Not only did the United States rejoin the Paris Agreement on Day One. Not only have we set ambitious goals for ourselves: to cut U.S. emissions in half by the end of the decade, to reach 100% clean electricity by 2035, and to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Not only that — we are making the most investments in clean energy and climate resilience in U.S. history, and building a better America.
The President is stepping up, and Congress is stepping up, too.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which the President signed last month, invests billions to upgrade our roads, rails, bridges and ports; to replace every lead water pipe in America; and to bring high-speed internet to rural and urban communities. But it also has a tremendous amount of money for ferocious deployment of clean energy and other climate solutions that are building a better America:
In addition to deployment, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also invests in clean energy innovation. It has $21 billion for clean energy research, development, and demonstration projects — with major new investments for things like clean hydrogen, carbon removal, long-duration storage, and advanced nuclear. All these projects could unlock large-scale solutions, and will help create clean energy jobs across the country, including in rural and economically hard-hit communities. That’s building a better America.
Before I go on, since we’re in New Orleans, I want to thank Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy for helping pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. And, we’re so glad that New Orleans’ own, former mayor Mitch Landrieu, is now at the White House overseeing the implementation of all those investments speedily and equitably. New Orleans has been on the frontline of climate impacts and has a lot to share with the world about dealing with them — including how extreme weather events, like Hurricane Katrina and this year’s Hurricane Ida, can disproportionately impact vulnerable communities.
On top of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden Administration is using every lever to achieve our climate and energy goals: including using EPA rules to lower refrigerant emissions, raise fuel efficiency standards, and curb methane pollution; and using the government’s purchasing power to drive deployment, which the President did just last week — when he directed the federal government to use 100% clean electricity by 2030 and buy only zero-emissions cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs by 2027.
And, there’s more in the Build Back Better Act, currently in the Congress. That bill represents the largest single investment in America’s clean energy economy in history — with over half a trillion dollars for clean energy and climate solutions, jobs, rebates, grants, and tax credits. It will unleash even more ferocious deployment: across buildings, transportation, industry, electricity, agriculture, and climate-smart practices like coastal restoration and soil conservation. We need this now.
Together, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Build Back Better Act represent the most we’ve ever done to combat climate change and invest in the clean energy innovation we need. And, they’re going to deliver jobs, jobs, and more jobs — creating about 1.5 million good-paying jobs per year. That’s building a better America.
In addition to everything the United States is doing domestically on climate and clean energy, we’re back at the table internationally.
Last month at the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow, the United States played a key leadership role. Our delegation signaled our commitment. Not only was it led by President Biden, and guided by his Climate Envoy, former Secretary of State John Kerry. Over the entire summit, a full third of the Cabinet was there, including me. We demonstrated America’s global leadership on climate, and our commitment to stepping up our collective ambition, action, and innovation over the next decade.
I know Secretary Kerry spoke to you this morning, so I’ll mention just a few of the many diplomatic outcomes from America’s engagement in Glasgow:
- The United States, the European Union and 100 countries overall joined in a global pledge to slash methane emissions by 30% by 2030. And, the U.S. issued an action plan for how we’ll meet that goal.
- Together with over 100 countries that represent 85% of the world’s forests, we also reached an agreement to stop deforestation by 2030.
- And the United States helped launch new partnerships — like the First Movers Coalition, in which some of the world’s largest companies have committed to use their purchasing power to fuel early-market demand for innovative new green products and processes in hard-to-decarbonize sectors like aviation, concrete, shipping, and steel.
All in all, it’s a remarkable set of commitments.
While I was at COP26, I spent a lot of time talking with my counterparts: the Chief Science Advisors from other countries. We released a statement from 39 senior scientific advisors, calling for evidence-based plans to reach our climate goals and accelerate international collaboration. And, while diplomats were hammering out the Glasgow climate agreement, we were discussing what science and technology would need to do to meet those goals.
There were three big takeaways — and we were unanimous on them:
(1) No pledges without plans; no plans without accountability
(2) We need ferocious innovation.
(3) We need comprehensive measurement.
Let me unpack those.
Point #1: No pledges without plans; no plans without accountability.
The Chief Science Advisors all strongly support our country’s pledges — the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions — including getting to net-zero emissions by 2050. Those aspirations, those ambitions are a critical start. But everyone agrees, they can’t be castles in the air. They need foundations. We need clear, credible scientific and technological plans underlying them. And, we need total transparency about every nation’s progress every step of the way.
Point #2: We need ferocious innovation.
Thanks to previous innovation, we have many technologies we’ll need — and we’ve got to get them into widespread use. This will take ferocious deployment, which the President’s initiatives that I described will help support. But we also need ferocious innovation.
Why? Because we need a complete menu of solutions — including for hard-to-decarbonize sectors and for different settings around the world. And, we must continue to drive down the cost of clean energy so that ultimately, it’s always the cheapest energy — much cheaper than other energy sources. So that the cleanest choice is the easy choice, for American families and for the world. So that countries — especially developing countries — can have more energy not less, to drive prosperity, without overheating the planet. That’s why we need to keep innovating for our 2050 goal and for the future beyond.
And let me be clear: The fact that we still need innovation is not a reason to delay deployment. Just the opposite. Ferocious deployment and ferocious innovation go hand-in-hand. The virtuous cycle of discover–invent–deploy–discover–invent–deploy can rapidly drive down costs and unlock entirely new possibilities.
By the way, when I say ferocious innovation, let me be clear what I mean. Ferocious innovation is the opposite of timid innovation. Sometimes in science, we get so worried about why things might fail, that we don’t devote enough imagination to how things might succeed. Ferocious innovation means setting bold goals, overcoming the fear of failure, and focusing on how to succeed, even on really hard problems. We need to open the lens and try many possibilities in parallel.
Point #3: We need comprehensive measurement.
To assess progress, we need vastly better science-based observations to measure, monitor, and report greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, we rely on indirect estimates — and we let every nation grade its own homework. To get to net-zero by 2050, we’re going to need actual, near-real time measurements and monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions over the entire planet — so we can hold everyone’s feet to the fire, including our own. That kind of measurement is going to take new science and technology; I’ll say more about that in a moment.
Bottom line: We need to drive an innovation agenda for climate and energy. We need to move at a pace and scale we’ve never done before. Because the challenge is greater than we’ve ever faced before.
So, let me dive into the topics of Ferocious Innovation and Comprehensive Measurement.
Let’s start with the story of solar energy.
Solar photovoltaic cells were first demonstrated at Bell Labs in the 1950s. The efficiencies were very low, and the costs, compared to other power sources, were astronomical. Yet the U.S. government needed a source of power for satellites, and solar panels worked pretty well in space, and, well, there were no better alternatives.
By using its buying power, the government encouraged the development of a nascent solar industry. By 1965, NASA was using nearly one million solar cells. And with deployment, came innovation, and costs started to drop. But solar cells were still way too expensive to compete with conventional power plants.
Then, in the 1970s in response to the energy crisis, the U.S. government created a new Department of Energy. Over the course of decades, DoE and others made investments in solar, wind, and other clean energy solutions.
In 1975, solar was 100 times more expensive than it is today. It was audacious to think solar power could get cheaper than fossil fuels. But the cycle of discover–invent–deploy–discover–invent–deploy drove down the costs.
By 10 years ago, solar had fallen to only 10 times more expensive than fossil fuels. And the cost kept falling.
Today, the cost of solar power is equal to — and often cheaper than — electricity from fossil fuels. In the United States, solar power now costs 3 to 4 cents per kilowatt-hour — and less in places where it’s sunny all the time. That compares to new natural gas power, which costs 4 to 7 cents per kilowatt-hour.
We’ve seen a similar story elsewhere: Battery costs have also dropped by 90% in the last decade. Wind energy costs are following close behind. And last year, the net electricity generation growth globally came entirely from renewables. 100%.
Solar and wind are now the cheapest sources of new electricity in many parts of the world. That would have been inconceivable even a decade ago. It’s amazing.
But we’re not done with the breakthroughs that are possible — not by a long shot. With innovation, we can do even better.
So far, solar energy has been dominated by a single technology: silicon wafers.
As great as they are, silicon solar cells have limits on their efficiency and manufacturing — they involve melting rocks under high temperatures and controlled conditions to make perfect crystals. And, they depend on critical materials and vulnerable supply chains. But now scientists and technologists see possibilities to do even better with thin-film technologies.
In 2006, a new type of solar cell was discovered, called perovskite solar cells. It’s easier to manufacture, uses abundant materials, and doesn’t suffer from supply chain concerns. Initially, their efficiency of converting photons to electricity was low.
But thanks to innovators around the world, within a short time perovskite solar cells in the lab matched or exceeded the performance of solar cells on the market today. And, they’re simpler to make: they don’t require high temperatures and perfect crystals. They can potentially be dissolved in a solvent and printed on surfaces at close to room temperature.
While they’re not yet commercially manufactured, the scientists and engineers working on these technologies think perovskite solar cells might be 10-fold cheaper to make. And, ultracheap electricity would make a lot of other things possible. I’ll come back to this point in a moment.
There are still issues to solve — including safe recycling and long-term durability. But, in the United States, a few start-ups and larger industry-players are working on perovskite cells. And now, a global race is on to see which companies will emerge as the leaders in commercializing this new technology.
The question for government is how we can encourage innovation ecosystems like this — in next-generation solar, and so much more — and also scale up the demand for clean technology both here and around the world. Because we need lots more.
Solar and wind work well when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, but alone they don’t give us everything we need. We need to complement them with constant power sources, available ‘round the clock. Batteries help, but they have limits too. That’s why the U.S. Department of Energy has a Long-Duration Storage EarthShot, to reduce the cost of 10-hour grid-scale energy storage by 90% by the end of the decade.
And, we need solutions for much longer-term, seasonal storage, and for hard-to-decarbonize sectors — like steel, cement, heavy freight transport, shipping, industrial heat, chemicals, fertilizers, aviation, and others. So we need ferocious innovation across the board.
One potential solution is hydrogen. If we could produce large quantities of clean, cheap hydrogen, we could use it in many ways.
Emissions-free hydrogen could provide long-term storage for vast amounts of energy — a zero-carbon energy source that could be used to produce clean, constant electricity. One kilogram of hydrogen has about the same amount of energy as a gallon of gasoline. And, hydrogen can be used not just as an energy source, but as a chemical substitute for fossil fuels in industrial processes like making steel. Traditional steel-making involves heating iron oxide in the presence of fossil fuels to strip off the oxygen, releasing CO2. If you do the same thing in the presence of hydrogen, you release water instead.
The problem right now is that nearly all hydrogen is made from steam-reforming of natural gas, and 1 kilogram of hydrogen produces about 10 kilograms of CO2. We can largely eliminate those emissions, by capturing and storing the carbon dioxide. Of course, that raises the cost. We need innovation to lower that cost, and to reduce emissions, including of methane.
Even better, we could make clean hydrogen by using clean electricity to split water. Right now, it’s too expensive by a factor of 5 — due to the cost of electricity, the cost of the electrolyzer, and the cost and supply of the catalyst, which is currently platinum and other precious metals. But, we have ways to decrease clean electricity costs, we can improve the manufacturing of electrolyzers, and there’s tremendous work underway to discover new catalysts.
Companies large and small are starting to jump in. And, the Department of Energy has launched a Hydrogen Earthshot initiative to drive ferocious innovation. It aims to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen to $1 per kilogram within 1 decade.
Here’s another thing we can do with cheap electricity and new chemistry: make electrofuels.
An electrofuel is basically just gasoline — that is, hydrocarbons — but made by combining captured CO2 and H2O. So when you burn electrofuels, you’re not adding new CO2 to the atmosphere. It’s a circular economy.
Electrofuels have potential advantages over hydrogen: long-term storage is much easier than for hydrogen, because they’re liquids. And they’re ideal for applications like long-distance trucking, airplanes, and ships, because they’re much denser in energy and because you can just drop them into existing engines.
In principle, it’s not hard to make electrofuels. For example, you can capture carbon dioxide, convert it into carbon monoxide, and use the classic Fischer-Tropsch process, developed in 1925, to make liquid hydrocarbons.
The issue is cost. Right now, electrofuels are roughly two to ten times more expensive than gasoline — depending on what you make and how you make it. The key is finding the right catalysts for converting carbon dioxide.
If we could capture CO2 from air at $100 per tonne, make hydrogen at $1 per kilogram, and generate electricity at 1 penny per kilowatt-hour, then electrofuels could be cheaper than gasoline. If we succeed, we would have an unlimited supply of liquid sunshine.
This is a really hard problem. The good news, though, is that scientists and engineers in America and around the world are making progress. We need to double-down with ferocious innovation to accelerate that progress.
I also want to mention fusion.
The promise of fusion has always been enormous. Fusion is, of course, the process that powers the sun. In principle, it’s an excellent clean energy source for here on Earth. Fusion reactors would use a virtually limitless source of fuel, basically water; would produce constant power 24/7; would produce no high-level, long-lived radioactive waste; would not meltdown if something went wrong; and, they could be very inexpensive.
The only problem is that no one has been able to make a working fusion reactor yet — that is, a reactor that puts out more energy than it takes to run it.
When I was an undergraduate in the 1970s, I was told that fusion was coming soon. Since then, the timeline has continually slipped. The joke has been that fusion will always be coming soon.
But — in the past several years, the prospect of commercial fusion has become very serious. There have been scientific breakthroughs — and remarkable commercial activity. Dozens of companies have been launched — many here in America, pursuing a variety of different designs: Tokamaks, Spherical Tokamaks, Stellarators, Field Reversed Configurations, and others — each with potential advantages.
There’ve been breakthroughs in related fields — such as strong electromagnets based on high-temperature superconductors that can produce the magnetic fields needed to support a fusion reaction in a Tokamak design.
International interest is growing — and here too, the race is on. A few companies are projecting that before the decade is over, they’ll have working reactors, and possibly even commercial products.
Will fusion become commercially viable? I don’t know. But the progress in the field is impressive. And, the promise is transformative: If fusion can generate electricity at less than a penny a kilowatt-hour, it could fuel a zero-carbon electricity system and help enable many other gamechangers.
So, fusion deserves very serious attention to see how we could accelerate progress.
A fourth area where we will need ferocious innovation is in carbon removal from the atmosphere, because the goal is net-zero emissions — which means, for some time to come, we’ll probably have to take CO2 out of the atmosphere to compensate for unabated greenhouse gases from industry and agriculture. It will likely take both engineered and natural solutions.
And that’s not all. We’d also like to remediate some of the damage we’ve done to the atmosphere by removing carbon dioxide that has already accumulated, and that will continue to accumulate until we reach net zero.
Because, as you know, some CO2 stays in the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years. We’re living with some of the CO2 from Watt’s steam engine, from Edison’s first power plant, and from the Wright Brothers’ plane.
And due to the exponential growth of fossil fuel use, society has emitted as much greenhouse gases since 1990, as we have in all of human history before 1990. These gases will be with us for a long time, unless we do something. So, we’ve got some cleaning up to do, to get to net-zero and ultimately net-negative emissions.
The challenge is cost and scale. So, I’m excited that the Department of Energy has recently launched a Carbon Negative Earthshot to get the cost of carbon removal to less than $100/tonne.
I’ve cited just a few promising examples of how we can help get to net-zero emissions by developing new clean, cheap, abundant energy sources. If I had more time, I’d talk about other opportunities — in offshore wind turbines, geothermal energy, advanced nuclear, marine energy, smart and efficient buildings, industrial processes, biofuels, materials, and lots more.
We want it all — because each new clean energy innovation can unlock possibilities that we can’t even imagine today. The Department of Energy, by the way, has announced three Earthshot initiatives so far and is planning to announce a total of six to eight.
Bottom line: the world needs ferocious innovation and ferocious deployment to tackle the climate crisis — and there are tremendous opportunities for both to accelerate progress.
Before I leave energy innovation and turn to comprehensive measurement, let me briefly address America’s special role in meeting this moment.
The United States is the world’s leading scientific and technological nation — home to extraordinary people, research institutions, capital markets, companies, and to a government with the proven ability to drive innovation and deployment. So, together with other industrialized nations, the United States has a special responsibility to step up to develop the solutions the world needs to tackle the climate crisis.
We need to relentlessly drive an energy revolution to make clean energy the cheapest energy for every application — so that clean energy is more abundant, more affordable, and more accessible, to drive prosperity around the globe, especially in developing countries. We know that such advances are possible: just look at the progress we’ve seen in the last decade.
In addition to being a special responsibility for the United States, this is a tremendous economic opportunity for the United States.
The energy revolution — providing energy that is both cleaner and cheaper — will be an enormous source of jobs and wealth for every country that’s part of it. In the United States, we have to be sure it provides good-paying jobs across all of America, especially in communities that have produced our energy for the last century.
As the U.S. science advisor, I want to be sure the United States reaps the benefits of the ferocious innovation we drive — so that the new industries and the tens of millions of good-paying jobs, are created here, in this country.
I know there are still some — including in the U.S. Congress — who are not convinced of the urgency of addressing the climate crisis. To them, I say: Let’s agree we want the clean energy revolution to happen here — so that we reap the economic benefits and don’t end up buying the energy technologies of the future from our competitors — like China — who we know are investing heavily. Let’s work together to accelerate this progress.
Now, beyond ferocious innovation in the energy sector, we also need another thing: comprehensive, direct measurement and monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
We can’t rely solely on self-reporting by each country based so heavily on indirect activity-based emissions estimates. Recent studies have made clear the limits of that approach. We also need open, transparent, accurate accounting to drive progress and benefit everyone — like it does in so many human endeavors. We need satellite-based imaging and direct measurement and monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions around the world — including methane and CO2.
Transparency and accuracy would be transformational in managing our way to net-zero by 2050.
The world needs better tools to measure national emissions from every country — so we can track progress to hold each other accountable, and accelerate progress by seeing what’s working and what’s not. We need to measure emissions in near-real time, and at scales from entire regions to individual facilities, to identify and manage carbon sources and sinks. For example:
- We need to measure how well agricultural carbon sequestration is working, to assess our policies and carbon offsets.
- We need to measure if the ocean and forests are losing their ability to store as much carbon as we think they do now.
- We need to measure methane emissions to identify and shut off hotspots where methane is leaking out of wells, plants, and pipelines.
- We need to measure diffuse methane emissions, such as from thawing permafrost, including to see how fast that’s increasing.
- We need to measure how well our environmental justice efforts are working — from addressing urban heat islands to protecting vulnerable fence-line communities.
- And, we need to make measurements to help answer fundamental scientific questions about climate and the carbon cycle.
To do this, we’ll need a revolution in greenhouse gas measurement, monitoring, and reporting.
It’s going to take satellites orbiting the Earth that can provide sensitive, frequent, high-resolution data covering the entire planet. These on-orbit platforms are flourishing, with existing and planned missions by the United States, the EU, France, Japan, and China, as well as new private-sector platforms. However, to get the accuracy and timeliness we need in estimating CO2 emissions, we’ll need more tools with greater coverage, sensitivity, and spatial resolution on the ground.
We’ll need to connect and calibrate these remote observations with measurements made on the ground and through the troposphere, using aircraft and balloons. We’ll need to drive down sensor costs to let us make many more in-situ measurements, which would improve overall estimates even if we have to trade sensor accuracy for cost. We need to get better at isolating fossil-fuel emissions from large background natural fluxes. And, we’ll need advances in inverse modeling, machine-learning methods, and high-performance computing to infer sources and sinks — from concentration data blurred by time, space, winds, weather, and background concentrations.
This will require the best efforts of all of us working together in America: government, academia, NGOs, and the private sector.
And, it will require countries working together, including sharing and analyzing data. Because we are all in this together.
The challenge is great, but so too is the need — and so is our capacity to solve it.
Finally, I want to say a word about the White House Office of Science and Technology, or OSTP, and acknowledge some of my amazing colleagues there. I know you’ll hear from a few of them this week.
By elevating OSTP to the Cabinet level, the Biden-Harris Administration demonstrated its commitment that science will be central in paving the path to a net-zero emissions future.
OSTP works closely with the White House Climate Policy Office, led by Gina McCarthy; the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry; and the Department of Energy, led by Secretary Jennifer Granholm, whom you’ll hear from on Thursday — as well as with the rest of the Executive Branch — to implement and accelerate the historic investments in clean energy innovation and deployment enabled by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and very soon, I trust, by the Build Back Better Act.
OSTP’s Climate and Environment Division is led by the Honorable Dr. Jane Lubchenco, a former administrator of NOAA. She and her team focus on climate science and research, climate adaptation, the Arctic, ocean and marine systems, indigenous traditional ecological knowledge, environmental justice, and more. They also oversee the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the National Climate Assessment.
OSTP also created, for the first time, a distinct Energy Division, which is led by Dr. Sally Benson from Stanford University and previously Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. She and her team focus on the clean energy science and technologies we need for the future, as well as the enormous potential to create good-paying clean energy jobs across all of America and to dramatically lower costs for American families and businesses.
Both divisions are working closely together, and with Gina McCarthy and John Kerry’s teams, to tackle the major challenges I’ve talked about today — including developing National Net Zero Innovation Priorities that will ensure we meet our goals for 2050 and beyond, and launching a comprehensive greenhouse gas measurement and monitoring initiative.
One other division also plays an important role: OSTP’s first-ever Science and Society Division, led by Dr. Alondra Nelson. Among many other responsibilities, they focus on STEM Equity, which I know is an important issue for AGU. It’s also deeply important to me, and to President Biden, because as I said, we know we’re going to need everyone, everywhere in order to tackle the climate crisis. And, we have to make sure the benefits accrue to all Americans.
So, let me end where I started: by thanking you.
As scientists and technologists, you’ve chosen to sign up for one of the most important missions in the history of humanity.
It won’t be easy.
It will require your brilliance, your creativity, your determination, your stubbornness.
It will require more nights and weekends than you’d like.
It will require working together, more than you have ever done before.
And, it will take decades.
But, in the end, I can promise you, you will be proud to tell your children and grandchildren, your students and your colleagues, your neighbors and your friends, and people everywhere, that when the Earth called, when humanity called: you answered.
Together, we can do this. On behalf of the President of the United States, thank you all for what you are doing.