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White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy on clean energy

The newly appointed White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy speaks with Yahoo Finance's Rick Newman to discuss President Biden's progress with clean energy and climate policy.

Video Transcript

GINA MCCARTHY: What he's planning to do is some investment strategies, the thing you do to get us out of the problems that we're in right now economically and start building a future. And his future is built on clean energy. His future is built on recognizing where the jobs of today and the future are. And how do we use that leverage to actually restore our economic growth but also address the challenge of climate change?

So it's a wonderful moment for us when we have a president that hears climate and thinks jobs because that means he gets it. He understands the future we need to deliver. And that goes with tomorrow, not just the future for our kids.

RICK NEWMAN: You have said that it's your job to make sure those jobs materialize. So let me ask you about this transition. I'm sure you've thought about this. As we move away from carbon energy toward clean energy, that kind of necessitates a loss of jobs in the carbon sector and a gain of jobs in green energy sectors. What do you do about the people whose livelihoods are affected in the carbon sector who may not live in regions that are going to benefit where the new green energy jobs come online?

GINA MCCARTHY: Well, I mean, that has been one of the fundamental concerns that we have put on our plate since before day one. And so what this president understands is that clean energy was the fastest growing sector before COVID-19 hit. And it is going to be the fastest growing sector.

Look, and that's not just because we regulated it. It's because clean energy is cheaper. Clean energy is cleaner. Clean energy delivers better benefits to some of the communities that have been marginalized and left behind.

And so it's an opportunity for growth. But it's also a recognition that there is a transition. And we have to start protecting every community and every worker so they're not left behind. We now have a transition task force that's starting up to make sure that we are eyes wide open not just about how we grow jobs, but we protect the communities that otherwise would be left behind.

And there are opportunities that we've already identified. In the second executive order, the president signaled that he was going to start opening up opportunities in communities that otherwise are dependent on energy right now, those energy, those coal communities and others. We're going to provide opportunities for them to actually work in the oil and gas sector to close up some of the thousands of abandoned wells that are spewing methane now.

And their expertise will help in their own communities. We are not going to think that sending somebody from their own community halfway across the country is going to be a welcome idea for their families. We want them to stay with their families. And we want them to have the same kind of economic opportunity that we see growing in the clean energy sector.

Is it easy? No, but hey, there's another opportunity that the president created. It was the Civilian Climate Corps, which is not for sort of the old guard. But it's for the new. It's basically an opportunity to put a lot of young people to work who can't find an opportunity today.

And it may even attract some of the older dudes, like me, who actually want to get out and do things once again. And so I'm excited about the opportunities we're creating right out of the gate. But also recognize that this is a long-term challenge. And we have to support that, which is what this task force is all about.

RICK NEWMAN: Just so everybody's clear, I didn't call you an older dude. You called yourself an older dude.

GINA MCCARTHY: I saw you looking at me. I got it.

RICK NEWMAN: So is there a way to do this in real time so you can anticipate where job losses in carbon energy are likely to happen or are actually happening and get there and say, we got an opportunity for you, do not despair?

GINA MCCARTHY: Yeah, I think that's why we wanted, out of the gate, to identify some real life opportunities. But you're right. We don't want to wait till after the jobs are gone. We want to anticipate where the shift in energy is and how we get ahead of that because it's really important now.

Look, this isn't the time to ask any human being to sacrifice. We have all sacrificed loved ones. We've all sacrificed our jobs, our opportunity to feel secure in feeding our families. This president gets it. He gets that we have to keep people working while we recognize that we need a shift that addresses really two things. One is that clean energy really is the future, that climate change is real. We have to pay attention to science. We've certainly learned the dangers of not paying attention to science over the past few years.

But even more importantly, we have to recognize that there are opportunities we can have available to us today to actually address those that are hardest-hit by COVID, those that are hardest-hit by pollution, and those that are in the crosshairs of climate change, which is the Black, Brown, indigenous communities that don't have the wherewithal to defend themselves, that come in to these communities needing assistance. And we have to address that issue. And the only way we're going to do that is to recognize that climate change is real, to recognize that we have opportunities. And this president has committed 40% of his investments in clean energy to be targeted to those very communities that have been left behind.