Governor Deval L. Patrick
International Renewable Energy Agency Council Meeting
Sheraton Hotel, Abu Dhabi
Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Thank you, Director General Adnan Amin, for that warm welcome and thanks to all the participants in IRENA's vital work around the world for a clean energy future. I'd also like to thank Tim Williamson from the United States State Department for his leadership and for submitting the request to the IRENA Council that has enabled me to be here this morning.

I’d also like to acknowledge and thank Alicia Barton and her team at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, as well as our Energy Resources Commissioner Mark Sylvia, for their leadership in driving our clean energy policies at home.

Like each of you here, I strongly believe we must address the multiple threats of climate change. We simply cannot continue to consume so much of the world's energy and take so little responsibility for the impact of that consumption on the lives of others, and the life of the planet itself.

This is an issue for right now. Only last month, the Obama administration released a report, co-authored by over 300 independent scientists, which catalogued the evidence of climate change and its impact in all corners of our country and in a range of manifestations, including heat waves, coastal flooding, intense precipitation, and more extreme storms. And those weather changes have implications for our economy, transportation, energy, water, agriculture, ecosystems and oceans. 

And yet I believe the impacts are a source of motivation, not panic. And the solutions lend themselves to a blend of public and private solutions. So, starting almost eight years ago, we in Massachusetts took a fresh look at our energy reality. We knew that if we harnessed Massachusetts-grown energy sources, reduced our energy consumption and protected our natural resources, we could strengthen both the environment and our economy.

And we knew it would take working together – government, the private sector, ordinary citizens, and the many, many advocates for our environment – to change behavior and develop technologies and a burgeoning industry around clean and alternative energy.

And what a difference has made. I want to take a little time today to describe some of our results. Then I’ll take some questions, comments or advice.

Installed solar capacity in Massachusetts was 3 megawatts when I took office.   It's over 500 megawatts today, and will more than triple by 2020. 

Wind capacity in Massachusetts has grown from 3 megawatts to more than 103 megawatts today; and we are poised to be home to the Nation’s first offshore wind farm. 

We’ve tripled the energy we’re saving from efficiency initiatives and today lead the Nation in energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Working with other states through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, we have lowered carbon emissions throughout the region and demonstrated that a market based cap-and-trade approach works.

And in total, $1.6 billion of investments in energy efficiency has yielded some $6 billion of economic and environmental benefits. We plan to invest another $2.2 billion by 2015, and produce another $9 billion in benefits. Importantly, this common sense approach – treating energy efficiency as our first fuel – will save energy equal to the demand of over 560,000 Massachusetts homes and the emissions of over 400,000 cars.

Between 2000 and 2012, the electricity generated from coal in New England dropped from 18 percent to 3 percent; electricity generated from oil is down from 22 percent to less than 1 percent. We have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 16 percent below 1990 levels already, and are well on our way to our goal of reducing emissions by fully 25 percent by the year 2020.

Conventional thinking often says that clean energy is an economic drag. That's false. The Massachusetts economy is not just unharmed but stronger because of our investments. While the US economy was at a standstill in the first quarter of 2014, Massachusetts grew at a healthy 2.6 percent rate; and, in the last quarter of 2013, Massachusetts grew 69 percent faster than the nation. 

Much of that growth is coming from the clean energy sector. Indeed, with over 5,500 clean energy firms and nearly 80,000 clean energy workers, Massachusetts now has one of the strongest clean energy job markets in the nation. Clean energy jobs have grown by 24 percent in Massachusetts over the last three years, with strong growth predicted to continue this year as well. In solar alone, we have gone from a virtually non-existent industry to one that employs almost 10,000 people in the time since I took office.

IRENA’s recent Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review for 2014 makes this same link between sustained and supportive public clean energy policy and private sector job gains, showing strong growth in clean energy jobs in both developed countries and developing economies around the world. 

That’s all good. But we must keep going. 

By January 2015, Massachusetts will have a climate preparedness plan to make our transportation systems, energy facilities and coastal communities more resilient.

By the time I leave office in January, we will have in place a “clean energy standard,” one that assures we are getting the cleanest energy possible and sets our state on a path to reduce our emissions by fully 80 percent by mid-century. 

That means energy efficiency first. It means zero-emission electricity next – solar, wind, and hydro. It means lower-emission electricity last – natural gas, an imperfect choice but the best of the fossil fuels. And it means high-emissions sources never.

Our clean energy future won't happen overnight, because it can't. But it will happen, because it must. And it will be up to all of us to make it happen.

Because we share IRENA’s vision, I look forward to exploring how we can partner with the Council at large and any of its members in particular. Challenges as large as climate change demand collaboration and the sharing of lessons learned. When the stakes are this high, and the opportunities are this great, going it alone is not the wisest option. So I hope we will use the time together today to exchange ideas about our respective approaches and look for ways to work together.

I mentioned at the outset that climate change is a challenge for right now. I should add that addressing it is also our generational responsibility. 

One of the behaviors that most concerned me in my business life, where I have spent most of my professional life, was the constant pressure to manage for the next quarter, to get the short term results, sometimes without regard to the long-term impact on the enterprise.

I see that same bad habit creeping into the way we govern – at least in the United States – where we govern for the next election cycle, or even the next news cycle.

I believe we must govern for the next generation, that we must do in your time all we can to leave things better for those who come behind us. My administration has consistently governed with an eye towards that future. That’s why we have invested, consistently and strategically, in education, innovation and infrastructure, a proven strategy to grow jobs and expand opportunity. That’s what our emphasis on clean technology is all about. And if it produces at once a sustainable planet for tomorrow and great jobs for today, why on earth would we not pursue such a path? To me, it not only puts the lie to the false choice between doing good and doing well, it helps us bear our generational responsibility.