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Haley Zaremba

Haley Zaremba

Haley Zaremba is a writer and journalist based in Mexico City. She has extensive experience writing and editing environmental features, travel pieces, local news in the…

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John Kerry: Green Transition Will Be Bigger Than The Industrial Revolution

  • The global green energy transition could be the largest market the world has ever seen according to John Kerry.
  • Rapid decarbonization of the world’s industries and economies will require global cooperation and innovation on an unprecedented scale.
  • “We have to embrace this transition which will, in the end, I guarantee you, be larger than ultimately than the Industrial Revolution was.”

There are two major arguments for large-scale investment in a global clean energy transition. Number one, we really have no choice; like it or not, the warming climate is going to make the planet increasingly uninhabitable for humans in the near future if we don’t decarbonize the global economy in a hurry. Number two, it’s going to make a lot of people a lot of money.

“This is the largest market the world has ever been staring at: the energy transition market,”  Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry said late last week at the IV CEO Summit of the Americas, and event hosted in Los Angeles by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Every aspect of life can be impacted in a positive way. It’s not something to fear — that we have to shun and shy away from. We have to embrace this transition which will, in the end, I guarantee you, be larger than ultimately than the Industrial Revolution was.”

Considering the earth-shaking, irreversible disruptions that the industrial revolution set into motion this may sound like hyperbole – but Kerry has a point. Rapid decarbonization of the world’s industries and economies will require global cooperation and innovation on an unprecedented scale. The industrial revolution was the natural evolution of science and technology – decarbonization will require willful, deliberate, and decidedly difficult uprooting of the status quo and the reversal of a system that has made and continues to make a lot of money for a lot of people. It’s a herculean task – but the experts say that the only other options end in death and destruction. 

The writing is on the wall, and plenty of business-savvy companies, investors, and innovators are rushing to place themselves at the vanguard of what is going to be one of the biggest – if not THE biggest – growth sectors the world has ever seen. The tech bigwigs of Silicon Valley, for example, have been some of the earliest and most earnest supporters and adopters of green energy technology. “Technology companies are backing solar, wind, and other renewable energy projects to fuel their increasing appetite for electricity, Nasdaq reported last year. “In some countries, developers pointed to tech companies’ willingness to spend upfront, which has helped make this private sector deals more important than government subsidies as the main support in the expansion of renewable energy capacity.”

Over in Europe, even Big Oil has gotten on board with pivoting to become Big Energy in response to what they view as the inevitable decline and fall of the carbon empire. Will fossil fuels continue to rake in money during the current global energy crunch, started by the pandemic and further fuelled by the Russian war in Ukraine, the current carbon renaissance is more than likely an anomaly before fossil fuels, most notable coal, continue their terminal decline. Proponents of early clean energy investing argue that those who are short-sighted enough to cling to petroleum products without at the very least diversifying their portfolio with renewables may be in for a rude awakening when fossil fuel prices collapse and the most promising clean energy markets have already been snapped up. 

Indeed, this already seems to be the case in the United States. Already, European supermajors are pushing into the U.S. market to sell renewable energy while U.S. supermajors stubbornly drag their feet on decarbonization initiatives. “European businesses including Shell, BP and TotalEnergies are seeking to expand into renewable energy, electric vehicle charging and other fast-growing businesses as U.S. companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron mostly keep their focus on oil and gas while investing in capturing carbon from industrial plants and biofuels,” The New York Times reported earlier this month, highlighting the growing divide between Big Oil’s approach to climate change on the opposite shores of the Atlantic.

Yes, changing the energy industry overnight is going to cost a pretty penny and incur some serious growing pains. It will be difficult for the economy as well as energy sector workers – for a short time. But in the long run, the clean energy sector is fertile ground for incredible growth, and no small number of jobs. The prevailing wisdom suggests that like as not, the energy transition is coming, and if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em – and get rich while you’re at it. 

By Haley Zaremba for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Jonathan Flesher on June 16 2022 said:
    I thought Biden wanted to pump more oil as was said in the last article I just read. You can't have it both ways. How is the green transition going to be bigger than the industrial revolution? We are going to take the way we get 80% of our energy and get rid of it in 8 years? or even 18? the things that have allowed us to concur nature and get rid of them. Another article on here says Lithium is going to be toxic by the EU. If you can't use lithium for batteries and you can't use hydro because it messed up ecosystems and you can't use nuclear because supposedly it isn't safe (even though it is) and you can't use oil, natural gas or coal, what can you do? solar and wind aren't good enough and they are intermittent plus they are made using fossil fuel generated electricity and transported from China using bunker fuel. All this makes zero sense. We need to just keep doing what we are doing in trying to using energy efficiently and keep trying to figure out a why to find the cheapest energy we can find to feed the world. There is nothing wrong with using fossil fuels to improve your lot in life. What is more important, a human life or the earth with no humans?
  • Lee James on June 18 2022 said:
    It is the job of John Kerry to mobilize the U.S. and others to reverse climate warming. What he envisions might be possible. I increasingly doubt that we will do it.

    I say this with a heavy heart. I do not see the kind of mobilization and citizen support that I saw in our region in the early 1980s. We offset the need for nuclear plants by substituting more efficient use of existing electric power capacity. It worked. We ended up building only one of five nuclear plants that were originally said to be needed by the regional power administration.

    I think we are too busy today consuming all sorts of things, in mountain-high quantities, to try to live closer to our means, in the short term. We might keep saying we will transition, but it will be down the road -- too far down the road.

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