Jonas Nahm Testifies Before Congress on a Green Recovery From COVID-19

31 March, 2021

With vaccine supplies ramping up, it seems an end to the COVID-19 global pandemic is finally in sight. But even after the coronavirus is under control, the United States and nations around the world will confront serious economic challenges as they strive to deal with high unemployment and help industries like food service recover. One of the many questions facing leaders is how they can rebuild in a more environmentally friendly way that continues the recent drop in greenhouse gas emissions, rather than simply reverting to the pre-COVID status quo.

On September 23, 2020, four experts testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment to present their recommendations for a Green Recovery Plan that would put the nation on a more sustainable path forward. Johns Hopkins University Assistant Professor of Energy, Resources, and Environment Jonas Nahm argued that the federal government has a chance to drive clean energy innovation and long-term emissions reductions.

“The United States should use the economic recovery as an opportunity to improve domestic competitiveness, including in segments of clean energy supply chains that are currently not well supported in the U.S. economy,” he explained.

According to Nahm, the best way forward from COVID-19 involves prioritizing a wide range of new initiatives that will put the U.S. at the forefront of decarbonization. He recommended expanded financial backing for clean energy manufacturing, increased spending on vocational and technical training and regulatory changes to bolster the market for green technologies.

Nahm offered lessons for planning the green recovery gleaned from initiatives already undertaken in the European Union and Asia. He suggested that the U.S. should follow the examples of countries like Germany and France by tying stimulus spending and changes in the tax code to clean energy investments. Nahm has previously advocated for enhanced cooperation with China in addressing climate change, and he now sees this relationship as crucial to quickly develop the supply chains that are necessary for the next generation of sustainable infrastructure.

“Addressing grand challenges like climate change will require fundamental advances in technology, where the United States is uniquely equipped to be at the global frontier,” Nahm said. “This means continuing to support the core strengths of U.S. firms and universities — the invention of new technologies — through investments in basic and applied research.”

Watch the full video of the hearing below, featuring testimony from Nahm as well as Rachel Kyte, the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University; John E. Morton a partner at the Pollination Project and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council; and Dalibor Rohac, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Click here to read the full text of Jonas Nahm’s testimony.

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