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Global leaders meet in Pittsburgh for climate talks

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Energy and climate leaders from around the world are in Pittsburgh to discuss efforts to curb climate change.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This is a prelude to an upcoming United Nations climate summit in Egypt.

MARTINEZ: The Allegheny Front's Reid Frazier joins us from Pittsburgh, where he's covering the Global Clean Energy Action Forum. Reid, this event comes a month after President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act. That's the largest action the U.S. has ever taken to curb greenhouse gases. His climate envoy, John Kerry, spoke yesterday. What was Kerry's message?

REID FRAZIER, BYLINE: Well, Kerry wanted to stress that because of the Inflation Reduction Act and other actions by the Biden administration, the U.S. is committed to transforming its economy and the way it generates energy with really unprecedented investments in decarbonization. He said all of this will help the U.S. meet President Biden's goal of cutting its CO2 emissions in half by 2030.

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JOHN KERRY: We will hit our 50 to 52% reduction, if not more, and I believe it will be more. Why? Because of the rate and pace at which technology is already moving.

FRAZIER: Kerry said the U.S. is playing catch-up on this from four years under President Donald Trump, when the federal government was not as committed to lowering its emissions as it is now. But he said, even under Trump, three-quarters of all new electricity during those years in the U.S. came from renewable energy.

MARTINEZ: But even if the U.S. makes progress, I mean, there's still the rest of the world out there, and it's going to cost trillions to lower their carbon emissions. So what did Kerry have to say about that?

FRAZIER: Kerry basically said governments are not going to be able to fund this transition on their own. He said they don't have enough money. He thinks the key for this is getting private money flowing towards renewable energy.

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KERRY: I believe the private sector - I've said this for years now - no government is going to solve this problem. No government has enough money to be able to solve this problem.

FRAZIER: He said that policies that encourage private investment, like the tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act, are really the best way to get this to happen.

MARTINEZ: I know forums like this are an opportunity for governments to highlight their climate efforts. Yesterday, the Biden administration's Energy Department announced funding for 6 to 10 hydrogen hubs around the country. How does hydrogen figure into the move to cleaner energy?

FRAZIER: Yeah, so hydrogen is a - basically a zero-carbon fuel. When you burn it, it doesn't produce any CO2, but you have to make it first. You can make hydrogen using renewable energy, so you could basically power a factory using just solar panels in theory, but you can also make it using natural gas. This is not as clean as using renewables. It creates carbon emissions that need to be captured and then buried. And there's a lot of interest in this natural gas version of hydrogen here in western Pennsylvania because, of course, there's lots of fracking nearby. And companies here want one of the hubs to be built near Pittsburgh.

MARTINEZ: Tomorrow at the same conference, Joe Manchin is expected to talk. What are you going to be listening for?

FRAZIER: Well, talk about the permitting bill that he - the text of which he just released. The bill has a lot of concessions to speed up reviews for oil and gas pipelines and other projects like that. And that has a lot of climate activists worried. But renewable advocates are also intrigued by the bill 'cause it could free up a lot of wind and solar that right now is stranded in the middle of the country. It's going to be interesting to hear how Manchin plans to convince his colleagues in Congress to vote for it.

MARTINEZ: Reid Frazier of The Allegheny Front - Reid thanks.

FRAZIER: Thanks very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Reid Frazier