"We have to help countries wean themselves from coal. It's not enough to sit here today and say "hey, you got to get off coal”,' remarked John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, National Security Council (NSC) at the World Economic Forum's Davos Agenda 2022. He was speaking alongside Anna Borg, CEO Vattenfall AB, Yasmine Fouad, Minister of Environment, Egypt Bill Gates, Founder Breakthrough Energy & Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at the session titled 'Accelerating and Scaling Up Climate Innovation'.
Countries like India, South Africa and Indonesia which derive a large percentage of their energy base from coal need help to effect a transition to renewable energy solutions. "Now India has made its own decision to deploy in the next 10 years 450 Gigawatts of renewable energy. We have got into partnerships with India and other countries to come to the table and help them make that transition through tech and finance," revealed the American diplomat.
The session highlighted the need for accelerating innovation and investments in order to make low-carbon technologies cost-competitive and to build green supply chains.
At COP26 in Glasgow, Kerry was happy to see an unprecedented level of engagement in the issue and the process by the private sector. He added, "The private sector has to be engaged. It will be private sector investment and private sector discovery more than anything else, together with government helping set construct, that will get us out of this hole."
Kerry listed the record level rise of private VC USD 40 billion investment in 2021 and creation of more stockholders value than the NASDAQ by climate tech companies as positive signs but at the same time noted that governments are still not investing enough in technologies like transportation, Direct Carbon Capture, Battery Storage, etc. "Around 46 critical technologies will play a role in 50 per cent of reductions, we want to achieve in the next 10 years but 44 of them have not moved forward."
According to Bill Gates, pairing those new technologies with the big companies, that have the skills to build those things at scale is critical. "In the end, it really does come down to economics. We have to make it far more economic. If someone asks me who is going to buy aviation fuel which is twice as expensive. My answer would be rich countries governments with carbon taxes and companies can bootstrap those markets."
He said he wants all leading companies to become part of the First Movers Coalition, a cross-sector initiative established by John Kerry and the World Economic Forum during COP26. First Movers Coalition is a platform that enables companies to make purchasing commitments across eight sectors and create market demand for zero-emission technologies.
Anna Borg, head of Swedish Energy Company Vattenfall AB called for a major transformation in energy and transportation at the same time. She revealed how the company is investing in fossil-free electricity production and also entering collaborations to produce fossil-free steel, green hydrogen and an appropriate supply chain.