Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler on US tour: The focus of the trip is the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. The industry will receive 250 million for decarbonisation. America supplies gas for Europe.
Ironically, the Sachertorte almost didn’t make it to Bernie Sanders, the American political legend. The wooden box, wrapped in wrapping paper, was a suspicious item for guards outside the Washington senators’ office building—even though it was a souvenir from the environment secretary. All attempts at explanation failed. In short – there was no exception. In any case, the cake had to pass the visual test.
The gift was quickly unwrapped. Just seeing the chocolate icing was enough to convince the guards – it was actually a cake and not a special Austrian concoction for an assassination attempt. So much for the ironic moment of the journey.
Climate talks in the US instead of criticizing the climate bonus
In the US, the Minister of the Green Environment took a week off from the domestic debate on climate bonuses and gas depots, but these topics are also on the table in Washington.
There, Gewessler met Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk, the regulator, World Bank boss Axel von Trostenburg – and left-wing politician and ex-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. “The good news was that in every conversation the US government gave a clear signal that there will be continued support in the form of LNG for Europe,” Gewessler reports. Three LNG terminals in the US will be operational by 2024 to serve Europe. The reliance remains – this time on a different superpower.
To replace the gas with renewable energy, Gewessler’s next stop was Pittsburgh. The former steel metropolis now relies on start-ups and green politics instead of fossil steel plants. One of the reasons why the climate conference “Global Clean Energy Action Forum” took place here.
Bill Gates attended the conference, as did John Kerry, former secretary of state and now US government special envoy on climate change. Kerry also met Gewessler. One of the few Greens with government responsibility, the climate secretary has a rarity factor that makes American heavyweights curious. Directly from the 20-minute conversation with Kerry, a discussion with US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm continued.
It’s a journey with a mission, but with many setbacks for a Green. Nothing works without an airplane, even the road from Washington to Pittsburgh. The train takes eight hours to the former steel city, the timetable does not allow that. CO2 emissions around two tons.
But there are tangible results, too: Gewessler, along with Australian Energy Secretary Chris Bowen, launched the “Net-Zero Industries” mission in Pittsburgh. In the coming years, both countries want to work together with international partners on the development of technologies for climate-neutral industry.
Austria will invest more than 250 million euros by 2026. “We are going to spend a lot of money here. And develop technologies in Austria that will enable the decarbonisation of the industry,” says Gewessler.
But back to Sanders: his candidacy for the presidential campaign had ended in defeat twice. The political project Sanders – he is now 81 years old – has nevertheless left its mark in the US. The left-wing senator has been campaigning for environmental protection for decades. A few weeks ago, the “Inflation Reduction Act” was passed with $750 billion. About half of this goes to climate protection. A turning point in the US too.
Sanders was interested in the climate ticket
Two environmentalists who tick differently. Sanders said climate action should not be a “war on fossil fuel workers.” “They are not our enemies,” he emphasized. It needs retraining. Only with new “jobs, jobs, jobs” can the phase-out of fossil fuels succeed. In the US, people don’t talk about missing out or saving energy like the Greens – here they talk about a switch and not an exit. The “American way of life” is the red border. It should not be tampered with.
Sanders also thinks about how countries like China, Taiwan, Russia or India – despite the fault lines – can swear on a goal.
Sanders, 81, showed great interest in the climate ticket, Gewessler’s invention. Sanders wanted to know why she hadn’t implemented this for all of Europe. Gewessler laughed and said: “Others had this idea too, but it was difficult to convince nine states. Not to mention 27 member states.”