tv Newsmakers CSPAN November 29, 2009 10:00am-10:30am EST
let me back up and said, the prime minister of sweden said going up from copenhagen, you expect this option of a framework that will say, this is our goal, will be towards a legally binding treaty. we and not get there in copenhagen, but that is the step we need to take. the good news is that a lot of motion is going on, and i'm frankly encouraged that a lot of countries are beginning to said, consider where we were five years ago and beyond the. things have been very positive. >> mr. secretary, the white house also announced on wednesday it will offer a 20-20 emissions cut proposal jobs. can you describe this proposal
as a provisional one, contingent on congress and legislation? what happens if congress does not enact legislation? >> i cannot remember a specific number. i think my guess would be a range, but i'm not sure. i do not recall asking a specific number be discussed. >> but if there is legislation, with the proposals and other actions like efficiency investments, are they sufficient, you think, to reassure partners of that the u.s. is taking firm action?
>> we want the bill. the president has made it clear, a comprehensive bill also includes the capital requirement and short and long term goals. so we're still pushing for those goals. the exact number, i think, would be arranged. the bill that came out of kerry- boxer was 20%. it is going to be some range of something. that is a very important part of it, in my mind, because all the things we're doing to promote clean energy, all of the things we're doing and cafe, all those
things on energy efficiency and read terrific in -- retrofitting, you also need to talk. the signal, what has been happening and what will happen in 20 or 3040 years, will deeply influence decisions. having said that, the president has made it quite clear that we have to be sensitive. you have to give time for judgment. you cannot move to an energy efficient green economy overnight. it takes time. but that long-term signal is very important.
what is the signal? what is it going to be? once congress says, ok, this is going to be it, i think a lot of investments will be in it. >> secretary, you've visited india and china recently. what are the big criticisms heard in congress is that we cannot solve the current issue of loan, we need commitments. what is your sense of where things are going in terms of actual reductions in greenhouse gas? >> i will agree if you look at, for example, in the u.s. and china, where 40% is there, we
need the developed countries and undeveloped countries to say they are in together. but no one expects developed countries to decrease emissions or do things that a developed company has the ability of doing. so the un language can hear out if i look at what china is doing, i see a sea change. there was a release of a report i had the privilege of cochairing about how can the world transition to sustainable energy. the inter academy council, representing science academy's across the world. they were purging energy efficiency, but there was no
great question of climate change. we were talking about these issues. two days later -- two years later, a comeback, have another dinner, and i see something different. that climate change would be devastating china and the rest of the world. we have to diversify our energy supply, we are too dependent on coal and carbon emission growth in china, it is not sustainable. so they have moved very aggressively, pushing hard to get 15% of their energy run noble, and now they are constructing the most efficient ones, pushing hard energy efficiency. if you look at the things that china is doing in the last year , it is impressive. why are they doing this? climate change will be bad for
china and the rest of the world. and this, they see as an economic opportunity. if you do and official tally of high-technology manufacturing, including aerospace, pharmaceuticals -- china has passed europe in leading high- technology manufacturing in the next several years. they see developing solar, wind, high-voltage transmission systems, as something where they want to be the leader. so they're pushing because they see incredible opportunity. so this is where a lot of european countries have gone in the past. china is being very aggressive about it. they are now leading the world in transmissions over long distances.
>> do you sense that they will commit to some sort of carbon reduction? >> i do know. i would hope yes. if you look at what they do internally when they say they have it -- right now, their current five-year plan is to increase and better energy intensity. their use of energy by 20%. that is for this five-year plan. another begins on an aggressive schedule, but now they are talking about the following five-year plan, saying it will be a carbon emissions to gdp clock. why is that significant? they're pushing heavily on hydro, wind, renewable, and on solar. if you take what they are already saying about where they want to go, you're looking
perhaps it 24%. five % is an important number, because if it compounds annually, that means a 27% increase for gdp. in the next couple of decades, china's growth is going to start to taper off. they will be easing into a developing economy, maturing. he did not expect china's growth to be growing at 8%. it will have to caper of and go to a developed country. you still have carbon dioxide to
gdp. that means they just put themselves and it's characters -- in a trajectory. but these are the issues that they are now thinking very hard about, but i see my a role is to said how can the department of energy help the united states become economically competitive in this future clean energy economy and also, if we can get pardon ships with china and india that would be mutually beneficial to both of us, we have to get moving. it is just like the cafe center. that is getting moving.
>> what number target from china would impress you? >> a number that would impress me, i would get to look at the details, but if i took their already stated it intensity and goals and where they want to be in terms of renewable energy, nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, those things, anybody who wraps those things up and says we will be at least there, here is where we are going to be. but those are aggressive goals. that be quite a commitment. >> the administration is concerned not to repeat what
they called the mistake of kyoto. our commitments to reduce emissions among developed countries. united states never ratified that, and the bush administration basically walked away from it. can you give some assurance that whatever commitment or promise or gold the president makes at copenhagen will also never be ratified, never be approved by congress? congressional debate is intense at this time, and there is no indication that you have the 60 votes in the senate that would be required to pass crime legislation. how concerned are you about that? >> looking at what, for example, prime minister rasmussen this tank, realistically, where can we set up the copenhagen framework path forward, i would
i even say it is an end point, it is the beginning of a treaty and a verification and those things. but in the end, i think, what the prime minister is saying is that we are not going to expect copenhagen to have a treaty that the country's go back to their respective legislatures and say, ok, this is what we need ratified. in the and -- end, several countries did make commitments, others did not meet them.
in the end, a treaty is a beginning, and then you have to follow through. you have to look at all of them. so what we are now saying is you have to go as aggressively as you can. the treaty is an important point, but to me, it is at the beginning, you have to execute that, and every country has to then say we have got to start decreasing our on sustained growth in carbon emissions, because we are a developed country with incredible technical capabilities.
i think we can show leadership that will help us in our economic prosperity. >> both the president oand you said that nuclear power has to be part of the solution to climate change. but also, the administration has made it very clear that the yucca mountain nuclear waste repository is a dead letter. you have nuclear waste piling on at the 110 nuclear stations, and huge amounts of high-level waste. you also have contractual agreements to take this waste.
the nuclear plant waste and a high-level waste. how will you avoid exposing u.s. taxpayers to lawsuits from car companies and the states where these wastes i to located who have zero legitimate argument that the u.s. is not living up to its obligations? >> first, the nrc has said dry storage is going to be safe for a period of years. so one could say, all right, if we guaranteed that this trail, it will be safe environmentally
and for security reasons, that gives us some time to reexamine thoughtfully how to go forward in a conference of way -- comprehensive way. but what has happened since the nuclear waste act in yucca mountain, both on the technical level, the supreme court ruling, a lot of things. this is the major reason why we are asking to be a last stages. hopefully, it soon will be announced. come step back and take a look. take a look at what you see coming on the horizon in the next 50 years in terms of nuclear technology. as an example, we have a policy
in the united states that started with jimmy carter that you use it once and after that did not let it be recycled. the trouble with that is you are extracting less than 1%, which means also that you are making a lot of waste. some technologies are coming forward where it is conceivable that we could have them in a cost-effective way where you could start taking them and striking more than the energy context. a number of other things could reduce, attract more energy and the amounts of waste. and to reduce lifetime.
all good things. it would also require different categorization, because you could cycle back. with the energy content of this fuel, you do not ever want to have access to it again. that becomes difference and temporary, and it would open up a different the mob better geological site. so we want this panel to step back and make reasonable assumptions about what we know today that we did not know 25 years ago, and look at different types of geological sites for what you might think. just different class's, whether they are yucca mountain, soap or
play like. it is a way that you can actually go forward. one site fits all, for the longest term storage, we do not really know over 1 million years what happens. >> secretary, no state wants a nuclear waste site. do you envision at some point someone has to decide that even though you're talking about the process and that in itself is controversial, because one of the ways it is processed is plutonium. let me ask you this. do you feel that reprocessing can develop or is not a non
proliferation risks with plutonium, and second, how you envision the political battles down the road? >> in regard to your first comment, we have in low-level repository. local areas are happy with this. it has been exclusively on safety, essentially a mining operation. they are happy with it. it generates income, it has been done so carefully, everyone is happy. so it is not an automatic that no state will take this. if you show you can do it. it is not a given that certain
states might want it. regarding proliferation, you made an important point. the countries that are now reprocessing use a modified version of a process from the 1950 bus -- 1950's. it takes spent fuel and create plutonium from bauxite. it's gotten to the wrong hands, it could make an atomic bomb. what you need to do to make a proliferation resistant is by hijacking some of this material, let's say you want to go live with things that are neutron emitters', but before you can get a mission it sizzles, or you
want to build it with hot radioactive things so unless you have the right equipment, you will be killed. we call that self protecting. and a number of other ideas so it just the hijacking of the shipment of the fuel from one place to another does not open you up to this. this is an important part. so the department of energy wants the proliferation reduced. >> mr. secretary, we have time for one last question. >> mr. secretary, a year ago you were plucked from a prestigious business career and plunged into the political morass that is washington. what has surprised you the most, or what lesson has been the most valuable for you in terms of negotiating, the
politics that perhaps were not so evident in your former life? for example, when you contemplate the climate change issue, it has to be frustrating , political arguments against taking action. >> the reason i'm doing this is because i care so deeply about it, number one. no. 2, it can lead to a solution to the energy and climate problem, and a solution is possible. does whenever i can do to get us towards those solutions that would be worth anything. the good news is, i've been told from both sides of the aisle that they do not treat me like the normal person in the
cabinet. i try and answer questions. i come in and we try to talk about what do we know, what this sides tell us, what do we know about what could be possible. and i hope i did not come across as overselling, but this is possible, this is hard, this is not likely. we have a good shot at it. and also to open up things because of my connections in the research community, i like to know what is going on with the most innovative companies. i can give them a glimpse of what might be possible. this is good, because it makes it seem like we don't, we cannot
do this. it is impossible, it would require a miracle. no, not really. it is bowing to be hard, but it is possible. -- it is going to be hard, but it is possible. i am not so optimistic as to think i can convince everybody, but a large bipartisan group are willing to listen and actually be done, get their staff and go back and do research. they can open their eyes to saying that this is possible. but i go back to the final thing. it is not only possible, but it is an incredible opportunity.
why should we see a high-tech manufacturing anywhere in the world? this transition, essentially a new second industrial revolution -- the first give us all of the energy we wanted and created wealth. now we have decided we cannot do this without some sense of sustainability which includes carbon emissions. so pull harder. now we have to get the energy we're used to, but in a cleaner way. that will require rebuilding the existing infrastructure, creation of new infrastructure requiring incredible ingenuity and invention. it will create a lot jobs for a long time, because it means you will have to transition entire infrastructures in the economy. this is great for a job
creation, and it is a high- technology issue, so the system is still the best in the world. >> thank you. we appreciate your time. we just talked to the secretary about copenhagen and the efforts they will put forth their, the obama administration. what did you hear? >> i think they have decided to have a real full-court press in copenhagen. they are sending five cabinet members, including secretary to end five senior officials over their to make the case said, even had the legislation not been enacted yet, the united states is aggressively acting to reduce emissions abroad and at home. >> what would hisol