Blog Post

U.S. Commerce Secretary: Entrepreneurs Will Pioneer the Climate Solution

COPENHAGEN — U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke told an audience at the Copenhagen climate negotiations on Friday that if history is our guide, the solutions for clean energy will be pioneered by the private sector’s entrepreneurs and innovators. Locke gave a nod to an array of greentech sectors — smart grid, next-gen biofuels, carbon capture and sequestration, modular nuclear reactors — and said innovations in these technologies will change the way that the world will fundamentally use energy.

Locke praised how the Obama administration had chosen to spend billions of stimulus dollars on clean energy and said those funds are already creating jobs. He specifically referenced jobs that are being created by electric vehicle infrastructure company eTec, which was a given a grant of almost $100 million back in August. At the beginning of Locke’s speech, he was introduced by entrepreneur Harrison Dillon, the Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of algae biofuel startup Solazyme and later on in his speech Locke referenced the jobs that Solazyme is creating.

These technology innovations will help the world “completely rethink the way energy is produced and consumed,” and help the world move away from the current practice of obtaining fossil fuels cheaply and easily, and burning them to emit greenhouse gases, said Locke. “Those days are over.” But clean energy technology will create an entirely new model of economic growth and “the potentials for new job creation are astounding,” he said. However, creating that new economy will need policies to make it as easy as possible for the private sector to develop new energy solutions and bring those solutions to market, said Locke.

Locke also dove into the issue of intellectual property and the climate negotiations, taking the position that the world needs to maintain a legal infrastructure that enables companies that develop these technologies to take the great risk needed and have the promise of reward for their efforts. We’re expanding the pillar of global intellectual property protection, Locke said. I asked Locke in a Q&A session after his talk if he had a position on the “technology mechanism,” that UN Climate Chief Yvo de Boer described in a press conference on Thursday. Locke said he had arrived to the negotiations today and wasn’t familiar with the mechanism.