Today we're going to start with one of the champions of that cause, Oregon Governor Kate Brown. A very warm welcome to Washington Post Live, Governor Brown.
GOV. BROWN: Thank you so much for having me.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: I'd like to start by talking specifically about some of the executive orders you've signed in Oregon to push the state towards greater energy efficiency. Could you talk about a couple of the key issues you've taken on and how you're doing?
GOV. BROWN: Well, we've had a great partnership with the legislature, so we've been able to move forward both in terms of legislation and in terms of executive action. The executive order that I signed capped carbon emissions and will move us toward net zero.
We've also had a great partnership with our legislature, but here's the harsh reality: The transportation sector is the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon, and I am assuming across the United States, and pollutants from diesel and gasoline engines posed immediate public health risks for our most vulnerable communities, our Black, our indigenous, our Latino, Latina, Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander, Tribal, and communities of color, and our rural communities. So, we have to do everything we can to tackle climate change.
We had, as you saw from the clip, a horrific wildfire season last year. We had the worst wildfire season that we've ever had. We lost over 4,000 homes during the wildfires. And this year, unfortunately, we are facing one of the worst droughts that we have had, with huge impacts on agriculture and on our tribes in Southern Oregon. So, it's critically important that we move forward. That's why I signed an executive order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon by 45 percent of 1990 levels by 2035 and 80 percent of 2060. Obviously, transportation is a critical part of that plan.
And then, most recently passed legislation that my administration sponsored to expand access to electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, particularly for families that are low income or communities of color and our rural communities. All of these actions are critically important.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: We're talking a little bit about the timber industry and that role that it plays as well in climate change, but first, I'd like to ask you about incentives you're putting behind electric vehicles because clearly, if transportation is playing such a significant role, they're an important move for you.
GOV. BROWN: So, the legislation I most recently signed, House Bill 2165, it's a rebate program, and we strengthened our current rebate program to better serve our BIPOC, rural, and low-income communities, and we also created an investment fund through Oregon's electric utilities and EV infrastructure, with half of the investment targeted to our historically underserved communities, our BIPOC, rural, and low-income communities.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Thank you.
And what about charging stations? I gather you've put a number of charging stations along some of the major corridors for commercial vehicles. How do they fit into this plan?
GOV. BROWN: Well, I just have to brag for a minute about Oregon. Because of the work my administration has done and because Oregonians want to lead on progressive public policy tackling the environment, we now have over 34,000 EVs registered in Oregon and 1,900 public chargers. We rank fourth in the nation for EVs per capita.
In terms of the commercial side, honestly, this is all developed through an incredibly strong public-private partnership, and Oregon is home to the first public commercial vehicle fast-charging station on the I-5 corridor, and this was made possible by a partnership between Daimler Trucks and Portland General Electric. And it is equipped with eight vehicle charging stations that can be used by electric semitrucks, buses, and box vans, and it's really the first step to electrify the 1,300 miles of the I-5 corridor along the West Coast.
So, I'm really excited about it. This is historic. It is long overdue, and I'm really pleased to see the West moving in this direction.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: So, bus is a part of this, but are you doing enough, do you feel, or do you have intentions to get people actually out of private cars, out of private vehicles, and on to public transportation?
GOV. BROWN: Well, yes. Oregon has led in this effort over the last couple of decades. Obviously, the city of Portland is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the entire nation. We have a very strong bus system, and in addition to that, with the leadership of our folks in the Portland area, we have a wonderful light rail system that serves the Metro area, and so we have a number of tools. But we're going to need all of these tools, including creating what I call "healthy sustainable communities" to encourage folks to walk, to bicycle, to get on their scooters and out of their cars.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Thank you.
So, let's get to this tricky issue of the timber industry. Some environmentalists have been critical of your executive order, particularly the one this past year, saying it didn't go far enough to take on the timber industry, which is also a huge source of emissions. Why didn't you? What are you facing here?
GOV. BROWN: We have a tension. It's always a balance here in terms of our natural resources industry, but I have to say right now, one of our other major challenges is making sure that we have adequate housing.
I mentioned at the outset that we've lost over 4,000 homes during the wildfires of last year, and we were already struggling with inadequate supply as a result of the '08, '12 recession. We were down roughly 150,000 hours. So, obviously, our natural resource industry, our timber plays a critically important part of that, and we're looking right now at how we can partner to create a better supply and get more houses built, essentially helping Oregon build its own. That's absolutely instrumental.
We also have a really strong partnership with the timber industry around our cross-laminated timber products, mass timber. These products are wonderful. It's a great way to create jobs in our rural timber-dependent communities and build houses or commercial facilities that are greener, frankly, and, of course, more earthquake resilient, both two goals that we need to focus on here on the West Coast.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: I have a couple of quick follow-ups on this. Isn't there a way to push forward on a compromise and potentially the kind of compromise with industry that could be replicated in other states where coal or fracking are the major industries, and governors are working hard to protect the interests of people in those jobs?
GOV. BROWN: Well, I think we can create some win-wins here through a different--you know, a number of layers, including carbon credits and carbon offsets, and I do think our work around mass timber is leading the way. We want to continue to make sure that we are creating healthier landscapes, and that's going to require investments in both people and in equipment to make sure that we are thinning and harvesting and doing prescriptive burning so that our forest lands don't burn up.
And, honestly, I will just say that last year, I brokered what I think is a historic agreement between our timber industry and our environmental community that will move towards a science-based approach for timber management.
So, we're leading the way here. There's always more work to be done, but I think it's critically important that we move forward in a collective and collaborative way.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Thank you.
And you are the chair of the Western Governors' Association. You've talked about the wildfires, but talk a little bit more about the specific challenges for the Pacific Northwest and California as we try to carve this path to net zero.
GOV. BROWN: Let me talk for a minute about the challenges facing the West in terms of healthy landscapes, and then I'll move to my work as Chair of the Western Governors' Association.
In the West, particularly the West Coast, we have millions of acres that over the decades have been mismanaged, and I think it's critically important that we create stronger public-private partnerships to develop healthier landscapes, and this involves resources and partnerships. And we've already started some of that in working with both the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service. The director, Vicki Christiansen is just achieved, has just done an extraordinary job in creating good neighbor agreements that require a little skin in the game from the states and a little skin in the game from the Feds. That allows us to hire folks to thin, to remove biomass from forest fuels, forest fire--the forest lands, and to frankly create healthier landscapes.
And I know that Governor Newsom in California is focused on this, and Governor Inslee in Washington is as well, and it involves both federal lands, it involves state lands and private lands as well. So, we see this as a win-win-win in Oregon because it creates jobs. It creates healthier landscapes, provides product for our timber mills, and hopefully, we'll reduce fires in the future.
In terms of my work as Chair of the Western Governors' Association, which I think I am only chair for a few more days now, my initiative was to create the Electric Vehicles Roadmap to literally partner around creating a West Coast electric highway and electrify the West. That means working with governors of both red states and blue states to partner about how we create EV infrastructure so that someone can drive from Colorado to Nevada to Idaho and be able to do so in an electric vehicle, and that means making sure that we have the charging stations available.
This is going to require public-private partnerships, and my initiative is working to build on the collaboratives that have already established and to expand those.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Governor, you've been a huge supporter of President Biden's climate initiatives. His proposed '22 budget, I think, puts $36 billion into that. That's a $14 billion increase from before. Is there any limit to the amount of taxpayer money we should be pushing into these transformative changes?
GOV. BROWN: Well, I look back at what happened under the Eisenhower administration in terms of highways and what happened under President Roosevelt and how we literally electrified this country. I am really excited about the Biden-Harris American Jobs Plan because these are investments that we need to truly move our country forward, and in Oregon, we've already laid the groundwork so that we can move forward on electric infrastructure that literally will be possible as a result of the investments the Biden and Harris administration wants to make.
You know, we are back, frankly, staring down an incredibly challenging wildfire season again, and we know that action is needed now to address the climate crisis.
In terms of resources, we have to transform our transportation infrastructure as we rebuild it, and we need the investments to make this happen.
I'm watching governors across the nation, both Republican and Democratic governors, invest in and work with their legislature to create significant investments in transportation infrastructure. It's simply not enough, and under President Biden's leadership, Vice President Harris' leadership, I am confident that we will get the additional resources we need to make these transformative investments.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: So, let's talk a little bit more about governors and senators in fossil fuel states. How do you talk to them when they have industries that might be strongly disadvantaged by these changes?
GOV. BROWN: That's a really good question. I will tell you that from my perspective as a Democratic governor, Democratic governors see these investments around climate change as a moral imperative that is something we must and have to do, but my sense is that Republican governors, particularly as it relates to EV infrastructure, see this as an economic imperative. It's a great place for us to work together, and governors are very pragmatic. We have to GSD. We have to get stuff done, and both Republican and Democratic governors know that we have to move forward on a transportation infrastructure that meets the needs of the next century.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Are there any western Republican governors you could name?
GOV. BROWN: That I can name? Sure, I can name lots of them. My sense is I have to tell you in developing this initiative through the Western Governors' Association, we had states that weren't part of the Western Governors' Association that wanted to come in and work on this collaborative, so yes, I can.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Also, you've talked a lot about moving ahead in agreement with industry, but you've had pushback from industry on your last executive order. Across the country, not only on climate change but also on the coronavirus, there have been allegations of overreach from governors and pushback from legislations as well. Talk to me about that balance. Do you see in your own example that there could be some justification for their feeling that you maybe overstepped your legal authority here?
GOV. BROWN: Well, the courts have been very clear that I have the authority, at least at this point in time, but I would say that the business community that is challenging my legal authority, these are the same businesses that funded the Republican walkout to prevent the legislature from moving forward on our cap-and-trade legislation, so you can't have it both ways. You can't both fund a Republican walkout that prevents a quorum from happening and the majorities from taking action and then also say the governor doesn't have the ability to have--to move forward in tackling these issues.
So, I'm confident that we will continue to be successful in the courts, and businesses know that--the majority of Oregon businesses know that this is a moral imperative, and it is also an economic imperative.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Governor, I have probably a little time for just one last question, but I don't want to let you go without asking you about Portland and the violence that's racked that city with, I think, the thirtieth homicide. Talk to me about where things stand, what your next steps are, and the ideas about police reform there.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Let me be perfectly clear. Violence and arson are absolutely unacceptable. We have worked over the last year to ensure that folks that are exercising their free speech rights can do that both safely and peacefully in this state, and I honestly am so proud of the thousands of Oregonians across the state who have issued this long overdue clarion call for racial justice. I join in that effort, and I am incredibly proud, frankly, of the work that the Oregon legislature is doing in collaboration with my administration to tackle systemic racism, not only in our policing system but in our criminal justice system.
The legislature recently passed nine additional bills tackling police accountability. I have signed six in special sessions last summer. My Racial Justice Council is moving forward, both in terms of legislation, but in terms of changing culture in our law enforcement training agency and in our work there. I'm really pleased about the work we are doing.
Is it enough? Absolutely not. We will continue to eradicate racism the same way it was built, brick by brick, and I'm absolutely committed to doing that through my term as Oregon's governor.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Governor Brown, thank you very much for sharing that commitment to a more peaceful future.
GOV. BROWN: Thank you so much.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: I'll be back soon with energy expert, Dan Yergin. Thank you.
MR. ABDESSAMAD: Hello. My name is Hicham Abdessamad. I'm the CEO and chairman of Hitachi America Limited, and I am very pleased to be joined today by Hitachi's newly appointed Chief Environmental Officer, Alistair Dormer.
Hi, Ali. How are you?
MR. DORMER: Hi, Hicham. I'm great. Good to see you.
MR. ABDESSAMAD: Good to see you as well.
Great pleasure to discuss a little bit of environment with you and climate change and what's happening around the world and what is Hitachi doing. I guess the leading question would be we saw Earth Day--we saw about 40 global leaders got together and virtually sort of renewed their commitment towards climate change and carbon emission reduction and obviously investments, but we do tend to think that they focus a lot on the targets but not necessarily how you get there. And there's not a whole lot of conversation around technologies and innovation that's needed to help make that a reality.
So, if you can just talk a little bit about what are some of the key technologies that you feel are essential to realize these climate change commitments that we're all committed to.
MR. DORMER: Okay. I mean, that's a really good question. As you know, we have the infrastructure, but what we need to do is make that infrastructure smart. Digital technologies like block chain, like big data, like AI is very, very important to be deployed so that we've got green infrastructure times digital to give us the infrastructure we need for the future.
MR. ABDESSAMAD: That's great.
And then, if you talk about--if we think about sort of some of the infrastructure gaps that we know about, so when you talk about mobility and energy, they're by far the highest emitters in terms of carbon and sort of the biggest contributors to that. We all know that those are probably the hardest ones to tackle because it does take a technology or infrastructure overhaul, not just an upgrade. Just talk a little bit about sort of what is Hitachi doing around this sort of infrastructure gap that we're seeing in some of these technologies as it relates to climate change. I just want to get your perspective on that.
MR. DORMER: Okay. Yeah. I mean, there's multiple areas that we've involved in, firstly, in mobility. The most efficient form of transport from the CO2 point of view is rail. So, Hitachi has a hundred years' experience in rail, but in the U.S. in particular, we're involved with the upgrade at Washington Metro, Bay Area Rapid Transit, and electric trains are super efficient.
We're also working in terms of how do you eliminate the requirement for diesel trains. Battery technology, hydrogen technology are all very important for the future, and battery technology really comes from the explosion in the electric vehicles that we've seen that is continuing to accelerate.
We're involved also with a very important project in the United Kingdom looking at how do you manage big fleets of EVs, so how do you manage those constraints around range, around the grid, around energy. That's a very important study.
Also, with our Hitachi ABB Power Grids, you know, we're bringing energy from the wind farms, from the solar farms into people's houses, but the wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine. How do you manage that and optimize that? You need smart infrastructure.
You know, in the U.S., Joe Biden has made some big commitments. Do you think the infrastructure in the U.S. is really up to the challenge?
MR. ABDESSAMAD: That's a great question. Well, he did make some big commitments, and actually, it's been very well received because it's a major financial commitment to what we call "Build America Better" and invest in climate change and invest in our future.
Yeah. So, if you think about it, the U.S. definitely needs a lot of upgrades throughout the whole ecosystem. So, when you're talking about--if you look at the investments, they're really earmarked in very specific areas that will make the biggest impact to achieve some of these targets, so railway, $85 billion investment to upgrade the whole sort of rail infrastructure, another $80 billion investment to upgrade the Amtrak. People talk about why rail. Well, as you know, railway, you know, trains, they emit 80 percent less emissions than--or carbon emissions than cars, and you know this very well. That's a big part of the equation.
Also, in the EV world, $185 billion in EV, whether it's EV as vehicles or charging infrastructures, which is a great start. You know, people wonder why is the government involved in this. Well, you have to sort of start and kind of encourage the private sector to be a part of.
Last year, 1.1 billion metric tons of CO2 units were burned, were contributed by cars and trucks. That's a big number. That's 17 percent of all the carbon emissions in the United States were contributing. EV has to be a big part of this, and of course, Hitachi has got a lot of capabilities, as you mentioned. We have great assets, energy, railway, a lot of digital technologies, and we're ready. And we've learned a lot from what we're doing in Japan and Europe to really be a part of what America is doing.
Just to kind of wrap this up, it sounds like Hitachi is a climate innovator in a way, and there is a renewed focus towards climate change. But is that core now to Hitachi's business strategy, or it's just more of a kind of "Hey, this is what we think we should do"? I just want to kind of--for people who want to partner with Hitachi to really understand Hitachi's commitment and perspective around climate change.
MR. DORMER: Yeah. No, Hicham, it's absolutely fundamental and core to what we're all about as a purpose, as a company. We have domain knowledge in energy, domain knowledge in mobility, domain knowledge in industry, and we have an amazing digital capability. We have the capability to work with governments, with cities, and with companies to help decarbonize.
So, you know, you can see behind me. We are a major sponsor of COP26, which is the climate change summit at the end of the year in the UK, and this is really to demonstrate to the world that Hitachi is committed. We have signed up to the Race to Zero, so we will be carbon-neutral in our own operations by 2030 and then reduce through the whole value chain by 80 percent by 2050, working right across our range of partners around the world, so it's an exciting time for us.
MR. ABDESSAMAD: Indeed, it is. So, Ali, thank you very much for your time with us today, and this ends our segment. I'll hand it back to The Washington Post.
MR. DORMER: Thanks, Hicham.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Hello again, and welcome back. I'm Frances Stead Sellers, a senior writer here at the Post.
My next guest is one of the most influential voices on energy and climate. The best-selling author and vice president of IHS Markit, Daniel Yergin--[audio distortion].
MR. YERGIN: Francis, I'm glad to be with you. I'm having a little trouble with the sound. I heard you very well--
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Well--
MR. YERGIN: Oh, now it's better.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Okay, good. Let us know if you have any more trouble.
MR. YERGIN: Much better.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Good, good.
Dan, I have a question first about this goal of reaching net zero by 2050 and how realistic you think that path to net zero is.
MR. YERGIN: Frances, I think you had a phrase in your previous interview where you talked about "carving a path" to net zero, and I think that's the point. It's carving it. It's a challenge, and we've heard a lot from the governor about what they're doing. But there are three big challenges that are there. One is scale and timing, the second are supply chains, and the third is the developing world. I think we can explore each of those.
In terms of scale and timing, we're actually in the 312th year of the global energy transition, which began in January of 1709 in England, but transitions in the past have been over a century or so. And now trying to do it in 28 years, that would mean, for instance, building the largest solar plants every built so far every day from here until 2050. It's understanding the scale of transforming a $90 trillion world economy, so that's the first issue.
The second issue is around supply chains, and we can go into more of that. And the big question is about the developing world.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Take us back to the most immediate steps we need to take now to achieve what you're describing as a sort of philosophical and physical metamorphosis; unlike any I can think of. What needs to happen now?
MR. YERGIN: I think, I mean, let's just take supply chains. You know, to make one electric car battery, you have to move about 500,000 pounds of earth to do that. The sun is free, the wind is free, but the materials are not. You're talking about increasing the lithium supply by 4,300 percent, cobalt nickel by 2,500 percent. These are huge numbers, and it takes, at least right now, according to the International Energy Agency, about 16 years to open a new mine. How do you do this all at the same time? I think that supply chain issue--and then it gets more complicated, because, who controls the supply chains?
A lot of it now passes through China in one way or another, and so you have the geopolitical issues with China and the United States and the supply chain. And so, I think that--you know, when you talk about the challenges on carving that path, that whole issue of supply chains is very important.
I think the other question is the developing world, and the U.S. is 15 percent of emissions, global emissions. I'm on the think tank, energy think tank of India, and they're talking--they're saying, "Well, we have a lot of poor people, people who cook with waste wood," which the World Health Organization says is the biggest environmental problem in the world. We want to get them energy. We need to get them natural gas. We need to get them propane for cooking. So, that's going in a different direction.
I just did a conversation the other week with the vice president of Nigeria who was saying the same thing, "We need to build natural gas pipelines, and does the developed world have the right to tell us that we can't?"
I think those are the three big challenges that need to be thought through in a very practical way to address getting to net zero carbon.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: So, you've been criticized by some environmentalists for having a lack of confidence in this 2050 goal. What's your message back to them? Simply that things are going to move more slowly? Do you see changes in either cache technology or is it all about permitting that could speed these things up?
MR. YERGIN: I think, directionally, there's no question where things are going. You heard from the governor, electric cars. They're 3 percent of the vehicles in the United States today. They'll go to be at least half our fleet by 2050. The average American car stays on the road for 12 years. It's not to say we can't do these things but just to say how difficult they are.
If you look at this recent International Energy Agency report that got so much attention, a roadmap to net zero, its message is this is really difficult. Where are the answers? I think the big answers are in terms of technology. I think another answer is in terms of carbon capture technology, which needs to be developed. Also, there's a lot of excitement now about hydrogen replacing natural gas, but it takes seven or eight years.
I think its lead times are--just we need to be realistic about it, otherwise there will be disappointment. You can't with a magic wand say every car sold tomorrow in the United States can be an electric car, and by the way, electric cars, 20 percent of them, are plastic.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Right. You're a global expert on these issues. How are European countries doing? Are there leaders there that the U.S. could be looking to?
MR. YERGIN: I think if we look at the Biden program, it's very similar to what the EU is doing. The EU has a thing called the "taxonomy" that has very--you know, things and tried to carry it further. President Macron has talked about limiting meat consumption. The German Greens have talked about having a meatless day, banning short-term flights, controlling how people invest money. I think the Europeans are really at the forefront of this in defining the agenda, and in fact, I think if you look at the Biden program, it's very much in line with that. And, obviously, there's a strong dialogue going on, and set your focus on Glasgow, which will be the next conference, COP26, to come out with more of the words, so a lot of action there. And so, you say at one end of the spectrum, Europe is the farthest advanced in terms of its policies and what it's trying to do.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: You mentioned--[audio distortion].
MR. YERGIN: I lost you on your sound again. Frances, the sound. Can the engineers do anything?
MS. STEAD SELLERS: We'll see if we can get some help. I know they're working on it. I'm hearing from our engineering team.
MR. YERGIN: You're back. You're back. I hear you.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Okay. Let me rephrase my question. Apologies again, Dan. You talked earlier on about the developing world, and I want to ask specifically about countries like India and Nigeria in a little bit more detail. As they push to bring their people out of poverty, is there any way for them to achieve both goals of greater energy efficiency and advancing the needs of people who are living in a far more troubled circumstances than those of us in wealthy countries?
MR. YERGIN: I think that--you know, that's very much on the agenda. If you look at India's program, they have very aggressive targets for wind, for solar. They really want to push them. Obviously, then they get into issues of land and being able to do it, but they are largely--in terms of electricity--largely a coal country. And so, I think it's just tougher for them.
I've heard Indian government officials say, "We're not talking about an energy transition. We're talking about energy transitions, plural," that, in other words, getting people off of those waste products, getting them commercial energy, while at the same time seeking to meet climate goals. I think for them--their energy consumption, their CO2 greenhouse gas emissions per person are a tiny fraction of ours, and so, I think for leaders there, it's actually more challenging because they have a double mandate, which is to lift people, hundreds of millions of people, out of poverty at the same time.
I sense--and when I was doing this dialogue with the Vice President of Nigeria, it sounded like almost hearing a new north-south division because their world is that much more complicated in terms of what they have to deliver. And we have--
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Well, let me ask you a little bit--
MR. YERGIN: As industrial countries, the United States, Western Europe, we have a lot of flexibility and a lot of money that can be spent. We've heard from the governor the kind of initiatives that you can do, but in India where you don't have reliable electric power, how fast can you push people to electric vehicles?
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Let me ask you a couple of questions--I hope you can hear me--about China. China has pledged to reach these goals, their net zero goals by 2060. First, do you think that's a realistic goal in China's terms, that China will move in that direction at that speed? And secondly, is China a friend or foe to the United States in these broader net zero goals?
MR. YERGIN: Well, these are two different questions.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Yes.
MR. YERGIN: I think they've bought themselves an extra 10 years, and there's no question that the word has come down to do this. China has half of the world's solar, half of the world's wind, 45 percent of the electric cars in China--in the world are in China. And so, I think they're determined to do that. I think it's, again, very challenging for a country that gets not just 60 percent of its electricity but 60 percent of its energy from coal. They have a very big agenda, but of course, they have the resources--they're a much richer country than India--to push there. I think on that first one, I think they'll push in that direction.
I think they see electric cars as a very important commercial opportunity because they were late to the game with internal combustion engines, so not really competitive in the world market. I think they believe that they have their test market of China that they can be competitive with electric cars in the global market, and I think that's part of their strategy. And they have made a strong effort to position themselves in what they call "new energies," dominating position in lithium, dominating position in cobalt. So, I think--you know, but it's a big country, and they have a lot to do. But there is a determination to get things done.
I think on climate, it's one of the few areas where the U.S. and China kind of coalesced. It was last year that President Xi Jinping made a speech at the UN where he talked about 2016, net zero carbon target, and China wants to be seen as a leader in globalization. But you look at all the other areas between the U.S. and China, and the trends are much more worrying; it's much more competitive. You look at trade. You look at technology. You look at geographic issues. The nature of the U.S. relationship with China has changed dramatically in the last six years. From the end of the Obama administration to the beginning of the Biden administration, it's like 180 degrees different playbook, and I think that means that kind of one of the few areas where they can come together is on climate. And I think there would not have been the Paris Agreement in 2015 had it not been for President Xi and President Obama coming to an agreement in 2014.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: You mentioned the automobile industry earlier on in that last answer, and you wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal recently about the huge transformation in that industry. Where do you see the car industry 10 years from now?
MR. YERGIN: I think 10 years from now, it will be in transition. It's one of the few industries, the business model did not change for over a century. It's changing now, and I called it--and I describe it at length in "The New Map." It's auto tech, and it's three things coming together: electric vehicles, which there's a big push on; secondly is ride hailing; and thirdly is self-driving cars, autonomous vehicles. When you put all those together, we might have not in 10 years but in 20 years a very different picture of road transportation.
It is interesting on cars that we just heard from the governor about electric vehicles. Transportation is a big source in the U.S. of emissions. In the world, people would be surprised. Cars only produce about 6 percent of global--GHG, CO2 emissions because the car population is so much smaller in other countries, but it is an industry--you know, GM has said by 2035, their aspiration is no gasoline cars. Volvo leapfrogged and said they'll do it in 2030, and I think between seeing the markets and where government policy is, seeing where the economics are, technology, automakers are moving in that direction.
But then, that gets you back into looking at the supply chains. You know, we see the problem of supply chains today, and I'm sure people watching this, many of them are having trouble getting things. They're taking much longer than normal, and so there is a big supply chain here. Everybody wants to go to electric cars at the same time.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Dan, we've had a number of viewers who have written in with questions, and I'd like to ask one which comes from Jonathan Granoff in New York, and he writes in, "What is the cost of not going to net zero?"
MR. YERGIN: That's a very good question. I don't know how you would measure it. I think the question is, how do you get there; is carbon capture part of it? It's hard to see how you do this without carbon capture, without technological innovation, and I would say that the one thing to really emphasize, if you say what really needs focus, that will really make a difference, I think it's the R&D and then translating R&D into technology.
As to what the specific cost is, that's, I think, a philosophical question. I think the direction is clear, but it's what do you have to do to get there and what are the challenges and being realistic about it.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: That brings us pretty much full circle to those challenges and being realistic about them as we go ahead.
I do have one very quick last question. It's a big one, but I hope you can answer it quickly. The coronavirus has been an enormous disrupter. At the end of your book, you ask about whether it will increase or decrease energy use. Are you optimistic that this has created a transformative moment or not? I'm sorry. A big question to answer.
MR. YERGIN: Well, a good question. I think we can see that the world is returning to normal, and oil demand, if you look at that back to where it was 2019 beforehand, I think the big changes will be this electronic communication, what happens to travel, what happens to how people do business and things like that. I think people are living in a more dispersed way, so we'll be more dependent upon electricity in ways that we hadn't expected.
But right now, what we're seeing coming out of it is the U.S. is probably going to grow around 7 percent this year, so a real rebound in the economy, but I think also--I think COVID-19 has shown how important technology is because the vaccines were decades to develop the technology, and then when we needed them, we had them. And they could be applied in record time. And so, you have to start in the technology and focus on that sooner, not later.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Well, Daniel Yergin, thank you so much. Thank you for sticking with us through those little hitches with the sound, and thank you for your optimism about technology.
MR. YERGIN: Thank you.
MS. STEAD SELLERS: Thank you also to our viewers for joining us. We have a great set of programs coming up tomorrow starting at 9:00 a.m. with Jonathan Capehart. He'll be here with "First Look," followed at 10:30 by my colleague, Jackie Alemany, who will be interviewing the bipartisan co-chairs of the Problem Solvers Caucus. That's Brian Fitzpatrick and Josh Gottheimer.
Join us tomorrow, and you can always find more details at washingtonpostlive.com.
I'm Frances Stead Sellers, and thank you.
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