David Turk serves as Deputy Secretary in the US Department of Energy.
Before joining President Biden’s administration in 2021, David spent over 4 years as Deputy Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA). He was Head of Strategic Initiatives Office and Head of Energy Environment Division.
During the Obama administration David worked at the Department of Energy (Deputy Assistant Secretary), the Department of State (Deputy Special Envoy) and at the National Security Council as a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director. Between 2001 and 2007 David was a counsel in the US Senate, working for Senators Joe Biden and Kent Conrad.
David holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and JD from the University of Virginia Law School
Michael Liebreich: Before we start, if you're enjoying these conversations, please make sure that you like or subscribe to Cleaning Up, it really helps other people to find us. Cleaning Up is brought to you by the Liebreich Foundation and the Gilardini Foundation. Hello, I'm Michael Liebreich, and this is Cleaning Up. My guest today is the Deputy Secretary of Energy of the United States David Turk. Before taking up that position with the current administration, he was the Deputy Executive Director of the International Energy Agency. There he served as head of the Strategic Initiatives Office and also was Director of Energy Environment. Please welcome David Turk to Cleaning Up. Mr. Deputy Secretary, David, how are you?
David Turk: I'm terrific. It's great to see you, Michael.
ML: Now, our paths managed not to cross at COP 26. I assume you were there throughout?
DT: I was there for the second week and my boss Secretary Granholm was there for the first week.
ML: Ah, okay. So, this explains a lot because my second week was very disrupted. I had rented this castle for the full two weeks, the Blair Estate outside Glasgow and was happily hosting sessions, then my wife came to visit was tested positive for COVID. And I left so we didn't interact, we didn't overlap.
DT: Well, I hope she's okay. Is everything okay?
ML: Oh, yes, absolutely. She's, she's recovered. And we're good. But I did miss the second week of COP, which is probably why it was such a success in many ways.
DT: Well… I don't think that's the case. It's been just terrific, Michael to know you for many, many years now. And having our paths crossed many, many times in the past.
ML: And indeed, I'm looking forward, I'm sure you know, during the course of this conversation over the next half hour or so, we will find many touch points and perhaps some things that we'll end up working on. And I'm pretty sure our paths will cross now that travel is becoming allowed again, give us the thumbnail? I mean, I haven't spoken to you since you left the IEA and went back into government. So, talk to me about the sorts of things that you've been focusing on? What have you been doing?
DT: Well, absolutely. And I have to say, Michael, you know, the IEA and my old boss Fatih Birol well, a phenomenal organisation to be a part of, and I really enjoyed my five or so years that I was there, and ultimately becoming Fatih’s deputy and just phenomenal world class expertise, many, many colleagues that we both know very well, some of the best modelers in the business. So, since I took this job, which is now coming on about a year, it's been about 11 months since I was nominated and confirmed as Deputy Secretary. It's been an awfully busy year, I was just talking to Secretary Granholm the other day. In some ways, it feels like it's been five years. And in some ways it feels like it's just gone by that quickly when we're trying to do so much. And we're coming in with a very this administration has a very ambitious climate agenda, rightfully so in terms of the climate imperative, but also focused on environmental justice, focused on making sure that we can make this transition in a way that works for communities and that revitalization from an industrial supply chain perspective as well. And trying to do all that at once. And we're both using existing authorities, existing funding streams, including very ample funding that the Department of Energy gets for research and development. We've been a innovator in the clean energy space for many, many years, our 70 National Labs, but also now deploying a whole range of new authorities, new funding $62 billion that Congress gave us in the bipartisan infrastructure legislation just for the Department of Energy to focus on near term clean energy deployment demonstration, exciting, incredibly exciting to be at the Department at this time.
ML: Right. And some of that money is going through the office of Jigar Shah, who was on Cleaning Up he was actually one of our early guests on episode nine in something like I think it was September 2020. So a few months later, he was given a call up and he became part of your operation there. Now he's running this loan office for scale up, is he not?. And how much… you mentioned the National Labs, and then you've got the scale up and you've got presumably lots of other things. How do you split your resources?
DT: Yeah, so the way to think of the Department of Energy is historically and for many, many years, we've had a very robust Office of Science and our research and development on solar on wind, all types of clean energy. And that's been very robust to the tune of eight or so billion dollars a year that we spend on related efforts. And we've got the 17 National Labs, I've had a chance during my time as deputy secretary to visit many of them phenomenal world class expertise 10s of 1000s of incredibly talented top scientists, not only in the US, but they attract top scientists from around the world, working on the cutting-edge technologies. And these efforts in the past have led to developments on the solar PV side have led the developments, untold developments in a variety of other clean energy applications. So DoE has always been a powerhouse as far as that R&D and that innovation side. What DoE has lacked, frankly, is a lot of demonstration deployment levers that you see in a lot of other comparable energy departments around the world. The loan programme is actually probably the most robust, nearer-term deployment demonstration effort that we've had for many years. One of the loan programme’s earlier loans was to Tesla at a critical point in Tesla's, as Tesla was just starting out, and one could say that Tesla wouldn't be what Tesla is now without the loan programme coming in at a critical early time, providing that additional funding at that early stage which allowed Tesla and any number of companies, including our utility scale PV.
ML: On that one I'm smiling, because that came up in my conversation with Mariana Mazzucato who claims that that Tesla only exists because of that grant, actually it was a loan, not a grant, $150 million, something like that was paid back early. And so, she claims Tesla as a total win for big government. And, and I have actually subsequently had a bit of a sniff around some of the investors some of the equity investors, say, well, had you not got that, that loan, what would have happened? Would you have folded the company? And they said, No, of course not. But I mean, so I laugh because it's one that just keeps bobbing up and rearing its head in, in these conversations. I'll give you at least an assist on Tesla.
DT: We’ll take the assist. And it's fascinating. You talk to some people Mariana, you talk to others who are involved in the loan programme, and they say it was absolutely at a critical point in time for Tesla when the private sector was not as forward leaning in these kinds of loans as it is now. And they say it's absolutely critical for that development. Others would say that maybe there was an alternate path or whatnot. Along those lines. But what Jigar is doing and Jigar is such a talent, it's just phenomenal that he decided to come into the federal government, Jigar and I actually grew up very close to each other in the middle of practically nowhere in the state of Illinois, our parents actually knew each other. And it's just been a pleasure to have Jigar part of the Department. And he's revitalizing the loan programme. After that initial flurry of loans to Tesla to some of the initial utility scale PV companies other key clean energy technologies. The loan programme has sat dormant for quite a few years in terms of any new loans coming through the system. And Jigar has just done a phenomenal job revitalizing the loan programme. So, we had our first loan for many, many years come through late last year, and we've got many, many others that are teed up. 2022 is going to be a big year for the loan programme. But the loan programme is just now one part of a variety of different levers authorities, the 62 billion is 60 new authorities, 60 new programmes that we've got at the Department of Energy, probably the one that's getting the most attention is what's called the OCED, the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, which has 20 plus billion dollars to do large scale demonstration programmes on hydrogen on CCUS on some other key clean energy technologies.
ML: And that's always been the real challenge has been that kind of what they call the Valley of Death. It's been the demonstrators and the oh one projects once you get out to project number two, number three, you've got so much creativity, particularly in the US financial system, that those have not been a problem but that Valley of Death has really been where a lot of technologies have floundered.
DT: Well, that's exactly right. You know, this, Michael, you've studied this for many, many years. And what's exciting from the government and from the Department of Energy perspective is we now have these new authorities, we have these new funding streams that allow us working hand in hand with the private sector, working hand in hand with investors, to try to fill in that Valley of Death and have a very robust conveyor, a very robust package of assistance that we can help on the innovation side, on the R&D side of the demonstration side. And we're looking for some additional legislation passed from Congress on the tax incentive side of things which can be an incredibly important pull for these technologies coming out and as you know, the climate science is unforgiving here. We've got to accelerate our ability to get these clean energy technologies at scale out into the marketplace, like we're starting to see with EVs, but we need a variety of clean energy technologies out there.
ML: Let's talk about some of the earlier technologies. And could you touch on there's also an organization or a facility, which has been much loved by many people, which is ARPA-E. How's ARPA-E doing in the new constellation?
DT: So ARPA-E is doing great and ARPA-E is such a terrific resource for us to have the department.
ML: Let's explain what it is in your words.
DT: ARPA-E was created and a real credit to Arun Majumdar who was the head of the first head of ARPA-E. And this is back in the Secretary Chu days in the early Obama administration. And the idea was, we do all sorts of great R&D, we have an Office of Science, we do a lot of cutting edge innovation in our labs and universities. But let's take some lessons from DARPA, which was the Department of Defense kind of early stage technology, high-risk, high-reward kind of bets, and set up a separate part of the Department of Energy, put it outside some of the bureaucratic challenges that we sometimes have in the federal government, they have a very unique hiring structure where they bring on people, top experts in fields for just a few year period of time. And they do higher-risk, higher-reward, earlier-stage, R&D. And I think it's just been a phenomenal experiment, it's to the tune of about a half a billion dollars a year that we spend on ARPA-E, these days, it had strong bipartisan support from Congress. And it's been able to do some really cutting-edge, early-stage efforts. And what we're trying to do with the department is affiliate ARPA-E, with the Office of Science with our Energy and Efficiency and Renewables Office, with this Clean Energy Demonstrations and Loan Programme, put it all in a coherent package. So, we're taking a crack at all parts of the innovation cycle in a much more robust way from the US Department of Energy side of things.
ML: Are there any names that springs to mind coming through that process at any stage? So, you know, what are your favorite children, either past or present?
DT: Yeah, that is a good question. There's an awful lot of them. And that's one of the advantages of ARPA-E. What they do is they put out requests, funding opportunities on specific technologies. And then what they've been doing more and more is actually having some open funding, so we don't dictate the boxes, right? Part of this is thinking outside the box. And so, these open funding requests actually have the ability for the private sector, university folks, others to come in and say, here's a bank shot approach to get to this, or here's some other effort along those lines. So, there's a huge, huge, I'm sure the ARPA-E website, and every year ARPA-E does a big innovation summit, any number of key companies and key technologies. And it's been around long enough that we're starting to see some of those things that were incubated in ARPA-E, actually coming out there as significant players in the so called real world.
ML: Right, it was maybe unfair to ask you to sort of name favorite children. But I know that there's some extraordinary stuff coming out in solid-state batteries, in hydrogen, in some of the kind of transactive grid digitization side of things. And it's it is it is a very exciting sort of funnel at least the beginning of the funnel. Now, but you have also, going back to the times of Secretary Chu who was also by the way, a guest on Cleaning Up, we've had Secretary Chu on and Secretary Moniz as well as it happens. But going back to Secretary Chu’s days there was this thing called the SunShot. And you've now got a number of prizes or focus areas, you're calling them the Earthshots. What are the Earthshots?
DT: Well, it really is looking at SunShot is a model, and I would happen to be on the transition team. In the US government. unlike a lot of other governments, we have a significant lag time for when the election happens to when the new administration actually takes place, a several month period of time. And so, what the new administration does is they bring in a couple dozen people for each department, and they say do a bunch of intellectual work here try to figure out what plans can be put in place that the new administration can execute on. So, I happen to be the deputy of that transition plan. My colleague Arun Majumdar, the head of ARPA-E, the first head of ARPA-E, and one of the fathers, grandfathers. godfathers of SunShot happened to be the head of that transition team. So, part of the work we did in that transition was think through how can we bring more coherence in terms of how we do R&D, especially for those key areas that we really need to accelerate the timelines on innovation. And we decided to look at SunShot and model series of Earthshots after SunShot focusing on those key net zero technologies, that we still need to have some significant cost reduction. Some technologies, solar PV, is a good example is cost competitive and cost favorite, as you know very well around the world.
ML: We should just say, sorry to interrupt, but just for those who not haven't listened to the Secretary Chu episode, the SunShot was to get the cost of solar PV from I think it was like five bucks down to one buck by the end of the decade in question, which would have finished in 2020. And of course, it was enormously outperformed was it. So that that was the model?
DT: That's exactly right. And it was both the hard technology costs, but also the soft costs as well, looking at how these technologies really need to take off in the real world. So, what we did is in this new administration and credits of Secretary Granholm, who's just been a phenomenal leader, more generally, for us at the department, including on the Earthshots, we've launched now three Earthshots, and we're going to launch several more in 2022. And it's looking at those key technologies, we need to have those significant cost reductions on the scale of what happened in SunShot. So, the first one that we launched was on hydrogen, a lot of countries, a lot of companies focused on clean hydrogen around the world. And we set ourselves the goal by the end of this decade to get down to $1 per kilogramme of clean hydrogen produced, second one was on long duration energy storage, reducing the cost of long duration over 10, our storage 90% from where it is currently. So dramatic cost reductions, a third one on carbon negative technologies, direct air capture, but other technologies beyond the mechanical for that critical part of the equation. And so, these are game changers in the innovation side, what they allow us to do internally is work with ARPA-E, work with our National Labs, have a coherence to our programmes, so that we're making sure that we're exciting our lab workers, exciting our professionals, but having a coherence among what we do at the Department of Energy and beyond that in the US government. And then for external purposes, is worth public private partnerships to try to show the market that we're doing everything we can from the US government side of things to reduce those costs, and the private sector should take notice and make some investments. And we hope this accelerates clean hydrogen, we hope this accelerates long duration storage, the carbon negative technologies, and then we'll announce some more Earthshots coming up. So, I think it's one of the one of the things I'm most proud of what we did in 2021, in this new administration.
ML: I think that's great. And it'd be… they’re brave, because you set the targets and then you either hit them or you don't. And my sense is probably the hydrogen one, I'm pretty sure you'll get to, the long duration, I would have liked to have seen long duration defined as beyond 48 hours, I think, 10 to 48 hours is almost too easy, kind of win without winning. And then the direct air capture, I got to be honest, I'm very skeptical about anything, you know, mechanical direct air capture, or, you know, I like the bio, but I like trees, trees are good. They're just not enough…
DT: Trees have been around with us for many, many years.
ML: But my suspicion is that any solutions will have to have something bio biomimicry at the core because as soon as you have fans and chemicals and reagents, and so on, I'm feeling that's going to be very expensive.
DT: It's a technology agnostic approach, right, we set those key goals of what price points we want to reach to, and then let innovators innovate and let a variety of key technologies come out. Then we provide a significant amount of our Department of Energy and US taxpayer funding. So, the long duration energy storage one is about a billion dollar per year budget. So, these are significant amounts of efforts we’re investing for us to be able to achieve those dramatic cost reductions. And we try to we spend a lot of time setting those goals. And we try to hit a sweet spot from something that's very, very ambitious, right? These are not meant to be easy things. They're not conservative estimates of where we should be able to get to, and if we get to them before the end of the decade. Great, right? We're trying to race this as a race against the climate change impacts. So, we're trying to go as quickly as we can.
ML: Now let's go back to the international stuff. When we started we talked about COP 26. You were there you didn't overlap with your boss with Secretary Granholm. What were you working on? How do those programmes you've just described, essentially, the domestic programmes, how do they then interlock into the international position of the US? And of course, the context here is that you have pledged net zero by 2050. President Biden pledged net zero by 2050.
ML: Well, absolutely. And it's exciting to see many, many countries and companies around the world pledging net zero as well. I think we've seen remarkable progress on there. The key challenge, of course, is actually implementing and actually getting this getting there in the real world and doing the hard work now instead of your traditional college student who does procrastination and putting off the hard work until closer to 2050. So, I'd say three things that I was really focused on. One was really showing and having conversations with other energy ministries, other energy ministers around the world, those are the parts of the governments that are really implementing these kinds of things domestically in their own countries and I had a chance to travel to India, to some other countries, including with Secretary Kerry on some of his trips in 2021, before the COP, and what we do in the US matters an awful lot, A we're a significant part of global emissions, a decreasing percentage of global emissions, especially as China's percentage increases and some other countries increase. But we're an innovation hub. We're a technology powerhouse from the private sector and the public sector. And for instance, when I was in India meeting with, I think, was five or six different energy ministers and ministries at the time, it was so reassuring to me that the key technologies we're focused on with our Earthshots, and some of our other levers are those technologies that India would love to have the costs low enough on so that they can take full advantage of. So, when I met with the Energy Minister, the Power Minister in India, his two priorities that he outlined, above all the other things they're trying to do on solar PV, etc, was hydrogen and energy storage, long duration energy storage, and those happen to be the first two Earthshots that we launched. And you could just tell how much he wanted us to succeed in our cost reductions, because that then allows them to be successful on their incredibly ambitious hydrogen mission that Prime Minister Modi has put on the table, on their storage efforts as well. So, there's a dovetailing of what we do domestically with what others do domestically and comparing notes and inspiring each other on that front. Secondly, we launched something Secretary Granholm with Secretary Kerry and others launched something called Net Zero Labs. And the idea is just as we're taking advantage of this phenomenal, world class, National Lab expertise, some of those National Labs have actually done some work with India, with Indonesia, with South Africa, with Mexico in the past. And our sense is if we can have those countries benefit even more so and more directly from some of this world class independent expertise. It's not a consultant, it's not trying to sell products or anything like that. It's just trying to help these countries think through their net zero pathways, what they can do in the near term, tailoring some of that world class expertise for ways that help Indonesia be more successful to do what they're trying to do in terms of reaching their targets. So, we've launched this Net Zero Labs initiative, which I think is a real game changer in terms of how that can help countries around the world, key developing countries around the world, move forward.
ML: Now, is that the same, can I ask as Net Zero World because I'm aware of the Net Zero World launch which NREL, National Renewable Energy Lab. Presumably, essentially, your founding and on the labs, but it's the Net Zero World Net Zero Labs Initiative?
DT: That's right.
ML: But let me let me challenge you here. Because in the early days of the last administration, I had a conversation with Secretary Perry, Rick Perry. And he said, everybody talks about this stuff, they all talk about low carbon, they talk about renewables, they talk about, you know, the climate change. But let me tell you when I travel around, particularly in Europe, as soon as the door is closed, they say, can you sell us some of your nice, cheap, natural gas fracked natural gas, we can't frack in Europe, but we'd love some of yours. And of course, now, we're living through this incredible price spike and energy tension, partly being, you know, stoked by President Putin, and partly because of a confluence of other situations, but do you not get people closing the door and saying, okay, Dave, I love net zero world, Net Zero Labs. I love hydrogen, I love long duration storage. No, it's all great. But come on, we need the natural gas.
DT: So it's been fascinating. I have to say, Michael, and Department of Energy is a real-world ministry, right? We've got real world issues that we're dealing with on a daily basis, high price of gasoline at the pump, you know, those kinds of issues, at the same time that we're trying to do our part to accelerate the clean energy transition, and what we say and I have to say there seems to be a pretty good convergence of this, how we execute on this two part strategy, I'm going to lay out is another thing. But one is, and I think it's a very credible argument. We're trying to do this in the US context, if we had more diverse supplies of clean energy right now, in ways that work from a climate perspective, ways that work from a national security perspective, from an energy security perspective, that is a good, good thing. If Europe for instance, had even more clean hydrogen in the system than it does right now. Right? We're just at the stages of actually getting electrolysis and green hydrogen at some significant quantities. If we had even more electric vehicles, if we had more offshore wind, if we had more onshore wind, if we had geothermal if we had the full range of clean energy supply out there, Europe would not be in the situation it is right now where it depends on so much of its heating and industrial capacity from Russian natural gas, right? And that puts a pressure not only on the price volatility of relying too much on one natural or one commodity whether it's natural gas or oil which the world relies upon, large parts of the world rely upon so significantly. So, the argument that we need to accelerate our clean energy transition even more, given the volatility of these commodities is something that resonates. And it's not going to happen overnight, right? It's not going to be like we wake up tomorrow. And we have a full cclean hydrogen system at the price points that we wanted at, etc. And then the second thing, which you just alluded to, or explicitly put on the table is countries having to deal with that near term pressure of providing for their constituents, providing for their citizens, for industrial purposes, for heating purposes, for transportation purposes. Last year, we saw 10% of global cars sold being electric vehicle of one kind or another, that's very significant. But it's not nearly at the percentages we need to in order to deal with climate change and have some of the other benefits that come from that. And so, countries around the world need oil, they need natural gas, and they're looking for those immediate supplies of it. So, we need to be both focused on the near-term price points in near term pressures as we accelerate, and really invest even more on the clean energy side of things for the future. So, we need to do both of those.
ML: And in fact, your former boss Fatih Birol at the International Energy Agency has been very clear that the price spike is a natural gas spike, it is not a clean energy spike or crisis. And that the solution ultimately is to reduce dependence on natural gas, and of course, also on the oil and gas. But he's also done a lot of work on the near-term pressures on the price of the fossil fuels and how we have to, as you say, we have to do both at once. I need to ask you about one thing, you paint actually a very optimistic picture about the long term trend, but part of your empire is the Energy Information Agency. The EIA now that we've talked a lot about the IEA, Fatih Birol is the head of that, and that's the International Energy Agency. But the US has its own called the Energy Information Administration, actually is very high at the Energy Information Administration. And they produce energy futures every year. And every year, you know, I and others have, I've looked at them. And you know, I don't want to say we've mocked them but we certainly had a few laughs at their expense. But even now, taking into account all of the things you've talked about their energy futures are for US emissions to come down slightly from where they are, but then to reverse and start going back up around 2035. Once the kind of low hanging fruit has come out, and then there's economic growth. And so, you know, your President, President Biden, has pledged net zero and you're working, you know, we've heard about the initiatives, but your own scorekeeper, the EIA, does not believe in it, seems to be producing these forecasts that then say, well, the best estimate of what's going to happen is it's going to fail.
So, two parts of that answer one, and you know, this, Michael, modelling is hard. Modelling is not an easy exercise, it requires an awful lot of skill and talent. And one thing we're trying to do in this administration in particular, is invest in those models, right, to invest in the models, so you can be as accurate as you possibly can be on technology development, right? How much additional volumes are we going to get into the system on hydrogen or EVs or any number of other areas? What is the price reduction that we've seen, as you said, remarkable price reduction on the solar PV side of things much quicker than a lot of people thought could happen. What does that mean in terms of other key technologies that right now are at the higher price piece? And how can we draw those down on that piece? And then the second piece, and this is something I think gets lost, and we came across this at the IEA and the EIA goes through this as well, is there's different scenarios that are produced, there's different scenarios are produced and as long as the assumptions are clearly communicated in those scenarios, they can be very helpful in that instance. For instance, if you have a status quo scenario that is supposed to show the world, here's where the world is headed, if we don't put more policy on the table, if we don't put more ambition on the table. And right now, those scenarios should be a wake up call for everybody because they show exactly as you said, where because of some price points because of some other things, we're getting some near term benefits, but the curve will keep going up as the pressures go around the world as India industrializes further as other countries in Africa industrialize further. And so those status close scenarios show we're far off from the curve we need to be on right the IPCC and other curves and new net zero analysis from IEA, sharp reductions. The status quo scenarios at best are levelling off, and some of them even have some increasing going forward. So as long as assumptions are clearly communicated, and it should be seen not as a prediction of where the world is definitely headed. It's a cautionary tale that if we don't do more work if we don't have more leadership from the US, from the UK, from countries around the world, from China from India, that's the world we're headed in. But we need to keep going to that world we need to go towards.
ML: That's right. And I was expecting an answer of that nature, essentially what you're saying is we've kind of got the EIA has produced, you know, four or five different scenarios showing where we're headed and that is failure. What I would love to see, and I think a lot of people would love to see is the EIA produce a roadmap for what success might look like, if the things that you're currently working on pan out or some combinations which combinations get you there. And at the moment, it just seems strange to have no scenario, no official kind of roadmap that's produced that kind of says, Look, we can't guarantee we'll get there, but at least this is our best effort of how we how we could get there, how we make and there's two different variants or whatever. So that's what I believe. But you know, I was bound to raise this with you. Right?
DT: Well, it's a great point, Michael. And we have a similar kind of argument or position, brought forward in the IEA context. And I was very proud of my tenure at IEA working with Fatih, Laura Cozzi, and Tim Gould and others on what they produced, which was a net zero by 2050 scenario, which I think had tremendous impact, showing what it really would require to get us to a net zero by 2050 scenario.
ML: It absolutely did. And in fact, my first ever conversation with Fatih back in 2006, or 2007, I think, was saying, why don't you do a sort of stretch aspiration scenario, so everybody could see what it might entail. But anyway, so that's, look, it's been incredibly interesting getting this update from the… I have to do this without using the words coal face, but from the from the frontline of policy action in the US, you know, clearly still making the weather on a lot of these technologies and a lot of these trends. So, I would thank you for your time.
DT: Well, thanks, Michael. And thanks for all that you do. And there's an awful lot of work that we need to be continuing to do and even accelerating ourselves from the DoE and the US government side of things working hand in hand with the private sector, working hand in hand with investors, key countries around the world. And the stakes are so high that, you know, we look forward to pushing ourselves to do whatever we can to help.
ML: And I believe just finally, upcoming you have the Clean Energy Ministerial or what other events what you know, what are your what's your next big sort of summit point, maybe who knows if travel allows, maybe I'll be able to come and visit?
DT: Well, this is a big, big year. And I think the thing that we're focused on the most certainly from the Department of Energy side of things is the near term. Right, great that we've got to 2050 commitments off into the future. But what we've seen and you've looked at the numbers, you're a numbers person in addition, Michael is, unfortunately, as the economies have come back, the economies coming back, of course, is the fortunate part. But the unfortunate part is emissions have come roaring back, as well. Coal uses backup, we're seeing some other indicators that are showing that we've not decoupled economic growth from the carbon emission side of things. And we have a critical window here over these next couple year, couple years where we either bend that curve, and we either decouple where GDP is going from where our carbon emissions need to go. And that's where these near-term levers, that's the important work Jigar is doing on the loan programme, our office of Clean Energy Demonstration, all these nearer term deployment demonstration efforts that we're doing. So, we'll be doing that domestically. And on the international side, we've got the Clean Energy Ministerial, which you know, well, Mission Innovation, as well. The US is hosting both of those meetings in September of this year, that'll be an incredibly important milestone. We're participating and supporting Secretary Kerry in the Major Economies Forum, which they'll have a leader level event in the April timeframe. That'll be important marker as well. We've got the IEA ministerial, that chair that Secretary Granholm is chairing now in March time period. So there's a number of these key meetings. My hope is we all focus on the near term, what are we doing? What are all of us doing in these next few year period of time to bend that curve and to get us, again, we don't want to be the college student procrastinating until 2045 to do all our hard work, we need to do it now.
ML: Very good. And I know there'll be plenty in our audience that will be agreeing and nodding along with us, as you said that we've got a focus on these next few years. So, thank you very, very much for joining us here on Cleaning Up.
DT: Thanks, Michael. It's a pleasure to be with you as always.
ML: So that was David Turk Deputy Secretary of Energy in the United States. My guest next week on Cleaning Up is Tomasso Demarie. He's the CEO and founder of Entropica Labs, and he and I are going to be talking quantum computing. Please join me this time next week for a conversation with Tomasso Demarie. Cleaning Up is brought to you by the Liebreich Foundation and the Gilardini Foundation.