At U.N. climate conference, John Bel Edwards pushes partnership with green energy industries

The state should embrace renewable energy, Edwards said

By: - November 2, 2021 5:42 pm
Louisiana governor discusses solar and wind at U.N. climate conference

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks at a press conference Aug. 18, 2020. (Wes Muller/Louisiana Illuminator)

Gov. John Bel Edwards stressed the importance of partnering with industries to fight climate change during a Tuesday panel discussion at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties.

Edwards pointed to increasingly severe weather events across the state and the eroding gulf coast as reasons for pushing for green energy in Louisiana. Edwards said the way forward would be tying green energy to economic development, saying leases for wind energy in the Gulf of Mexico would be happening in the next 13-14 months. 

“If you can fabricate an offshore oil platform, you can fabricate an offshore wind platform. And if you have the vessels to service the offshore oil platform, you can service the wind platforms too. And so we can do a lot but we have to do some workforce development. But we’re prepared to do it,” Edwards said.  

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With one of the last coal-fired power plants in Louisiana, Dolet Hills Power Station in DeSoto Parish, shutting down five years earlier than expected, and a new carbon sequestration project in the works, Edwards said the next step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions would be to clean up the 4,600 abandoned oil wells in the state. 

In October, Edwards had Louisiana join the international “Race to Zero” campaign, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The governor also launched a Climate Initiatives Task Force, with the goal of reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050

Edwards, who is term limited, said he planned to expand green energy in a way that can’t easily be undone in the future. With two years left in his term, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a big supporter of the oil and gas industry, is expected by many to run for governor in 2023.

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 Landry has repeatedly criticized green energy and filed a lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s executive order that temporarily suspended new oil and gas leases on public lands or offshore waters, in the belief that green energy would “put energy security in the hands of foreign countries.”

Said Edwards: “I don’t believe the next governor is going to be able to walk us back, even if they’re not thinking like I am.” 

“We all understand investment and job creation. And this is real. This is happening as we speak and it’s just going to accelerate,’’ Edwards said. “And so I think that’s how we can have a transformative impact, so that when our days are done and somebody else follows us in the office, it’s going to be very, very clear the direction that they need to continue to go.” 

The conference continues through Nov. 12, though Edwards will only be attending meetings until Nov. 4. 

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Rachel Mipro
Rachel Mipro

Rachel Mipro has previous experience at WBRZ and The Reveille and earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Louisiana State University. At LSU, she worked as an opinion editor for The Reveille and as a nonfiction editor for the university’s creative writing journal. In her free time, she enjoys baking, Netflix and hiking.

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