Opinion

opinion | John F. Kerry and Philip Hammond

Smart energy policy is a win for the world

Residents fit solar thermal water heaters onto a cottage on the island of Eigg, Inner Hebrides, Scotland. Almost all of the energy on Eigg comes from renewable resources.
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Residents fit solar thermal water heaters onto a cottage on the island of Eigg, Inner Hebrides, Scotland. Almost all of the energy on Eigg comes from renewable resources.

The United States and the United Kingdom are proud of our special relationship — from the struggle against fascism in the 1940s to today’s fight to defeat the Islamic State, we are united in common cause. On Thursday, we will be in Boston, the place where our two countries traded the first shots of the American Revolution. But we’re in Massachusetts not to remember history, but to encourage a new revolution already underway: the clean energy revolution, which is essential to winning the battle against global climate change.

This is a battle we have to win. Unless we take decisive action, we are on course for a 7-degree rise in global temperatures that could have catastrophic consequences for future generations.

Combating climate change isn’t just a responsibility. It’s also an extraordinary opportunity. Too often, conventional wisdom argues that we must choose between combating global climate change or growing our economies. But we can do both — by improving resource productivity, investing in infrastructure, and stimulating innovation.

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Put simply, addressing climate change will create new jobs. Not only that, it will give us cleaner air, better health, and more energy security.

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The scale of the opportunity is vast. The world energy market is already worth $6 trillion. Its 4 billion to 5 billion users today could be as many as 9 billion by 2030. And the fastest growing segment by far is clean energy.

For all these reasons, our two countries are already laying the groundwork for a dynamic clean energy economy.

The United Kingdom has cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent. It passed the world’s first national climate change legislation and boasts the world’s leading financial center in carbon trading. The United States is well on its way to meeting its international commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. It is targeting emissions from transportation and power sources which account for 60 percent of dangerous greenhouse gases. New standards double the fuel efficiency of cars on American roads.

Our two countries are also increasing investments in clean energy. The United States has doubled the amount of renewable energy it produces, upped wind energy production more than threefold, and increased solar energy production by more than tenfold.

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The Better Buildings Initiative has led to $300 million in energy savings. That’s money in the pockets of everyday Americans. It also represents tens of thousands of good-paying American jobs.

Last year, America’s clean energy economy created nearly 80,000 jobs. The US solar industry alone employs 143,000 people.

The United Kingdom has more than doubled its capacity in renewable electricity in the last four years, with record investment last year. It is a world leader in offshore wind. While much work remains, it is on track to cut emissions by 80 percent by 2050. This kind of leadership is creating the momentum for an effective global climate agreement in Paris next year.

It is clear governments around the world need to do more. When they do, it will create even greater opportunities in a sector that’s already thriving.

On Thursday, we will jointly tour the Wind Technology Testing Center in Boston, where wind farm blades and other clean energy technologies are being pioneered for deployment. For the third year in a row, Massachusetts has seen job growth in its clean energy sector hit double digits, most recently by 10.5 percent. It has grown 47 percent over the past four years, to comprise over 5,800 firms employing nearly 89,000 people.

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Clean tech is no niche industry today in Massachusetts; it’s a $10 billion sector in the state’s economy — and growing.

It’s time to embrace the energy of the future — not to endanger good jobs, but to create them. The solution to climate change is smart energy policy. And it’s not a zero-sum game. It’s a win for the United States, a win for the United Kingdom, and a win for the world.

That’s a revolution we can all embrace.

John F. Kerry is the US secretary of state. Philip Hammond is foreign secretary of the United Kingdom.