US climate task force begins work

12 February 2021

The US Administration has launched its innovation effort to create American jobs while tackling the climate crisis with the creation of a new working group of the National Climate Task Force and the announcement of a new USD100 million federal funding opportunity to support transformational low-carbon energy technologies.

The National Climate Task Force's inaugural meeting (Image: @ginamccarthy46)

The National Climate Task Force, which met for the first time yesterday, was established in an executive order on tackling the climate crisis signed by President Joe Biden during his first week in office. The Task Force is chaired by the National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and includes Cabinet-level leaders from 21 federal agencies and senior White House officials. The inaugural meeting was also attended by Vice President Kamala Harris.

"We are tapping into the imagination, talent, and grit of America’s innovators, scientists, and workers to spearhead a national effort that empowers the United States to lead the world in tackling the climate crisis," McCarthy said. "At the same time, we are positioning America to create good-paying, union jobs in a just and equitable way in communities across the nation that will be at the forefront of new manufacturing for clean energy and new technology, tools, and infrastructure that will help us adapt to a changing climate."

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will be one of the participants in the Climate Innovation Working Group, which it said will coordinate federal government-wide efforts to foster game-changing technologies to help the USA achieve the presidential goal of net zero economy-wide emissions by 2050, as well as emphasising research to bolster and build domestic clean energy supply chains and strengthen US manufacturing. The working group's remit will include amongst other things: zero net carbon buildings, including carbon-neutral construction materials; energy storage; advanced energy system management tools; zero carbon vehicles and transit systems; new, sustainable fuels for aircraft and ships; affordable refrigeration, carbon-free heat and industrial processes; and the pursuit of carbon-free hydrogen at a lower cost than hydrogen made from polluting alternatives.

Funding opportunity

The USD100 million of funding to support transformative clean energy technology research and development, announced yesterday by the DOE, is a "first example" of the innovation effort, the White House said.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy's (ARPA-E's) OPEN 2021 funding opportunity announcement (FOA) will help identify cutting-edge, disruptive clean energy technologies to address the climate crisis and is the first of billions of dollars of DOE R&D opportunities that will be announced this year, DOE said.

"Today we are inviting scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs and creative thinkers around America to join us in developing the energy technologies we need to tackle the climate crisis and build a more equitable clean energy economy," DOE Chief of Staff Tarak Shah said. "The Department of Energy is committed to empowering innovators to develop bold solutions that will help America achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 while creating millions of good-paying jobs that benefit all Americans."

Since its founding in 2009, ARPA-E has provided USD2.4 billion in R&D funding. In addition to its focused FOAs, the agency periodically issues OPEN FOAs which aim to support the development of potentially disruptive new technologies across the full spectrum of energy applications. The most recent OPEN FOA, issued in 2018, saw the agency receive more than 2600 concept papers and eventually award USD199 million to 77 projects across 13 technical areas, including several projects related to nuclear materials, manufacturing and technology.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News