Under the eyes of French President Emmanuel Macron, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Collona signed an agreement on Friday afternoon outlining how their two governments will help each other in the development of climate-friendly energy sources.
The objective is “to help companies in their respective countries to identify potential cooperation partners, to seek available sources of funding and to support the research activities necessary for the development of their cooperation”, according to the memorandum of understanding. .
As part of the deal, France will send an “international technical expert” to Louisiana to work with state agencies, including the governor’s carbon initiatives task force and the Louisiana Department of Economic Development. The goal is to identify French industries that might want to work on carbon reduction initiatives in Louisiana, and Louisiana industries that might want to work on similar initiatives in France.
The French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs will support these efforts.
France has created up to five international technical expert posts per year worldwide. It is the first dedicated to the energy sector, energy transition and climate change, and the first based in Louisiana.
The memorandum, signed at the New Orleans Historical Collection in the French Quarter, asserts that Louisiana “is the US state most affected by climate change, having faced numerous severe hurricanes, coastal erosion and the rising waters”.
“Since we adopted our climate action plan earlier this year, we have seen renewed interest in low-carbon economic development projects and other new partnerships that will strengthen the economy of our state and will help us do more to adapt to the impacts of climate change,” Edwards said in a press release. “This agreement with France is a shining example of how two historic partners can come together as they tackle one of the world’s greatest challenges together.”
Much of the state’s climate plan focuses on how best to shift from carbon-based fuels to low-carbon and zero-carbon sources in power generation. The plan also explores the permanent storage of carbon emissions in underground formations and greater use of solar, wind and nuclear energy.
The agreement fits into what Louisiana has dubbed its three “policy pillars” to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2050:
- Increase the state’s supply of renewable electricity;
- Conversion of industrial processes and equipment to electric power;
- And the transition from high-temperature industrial processes to sustainably produced hydrogen.
French and Louisiana companies interested in the efforts will be identified and will receive the necessary technical support for joint projects, including assistance in identifying funding and institutional contacts in both countries.
Both nations will host visits from interested companies.
The French expert will also “pursue and encourage” the development of research by Louisiana universities on renewable energy, and will also monitor developments in France and Louisiana related to law and policy, emerging best practices and economic progress. , technological and scientific in the field of energy. sector.
According to Chip Kline, chairman of the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, it has not yet been determined how the French expert will distribute the working time between the authority’s offices, the Department of economic development and the office of the French consulate in New Orleans. .
Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson said France is the state’s second-largest foreign job creator, responsible for more than $1 billion in trade each year.
“As we continue to pursue economic development projects in clean energy and prepare our economy for a low-carbon future, the opportunities to share information and explore joint ventures with French companies can only be enhance our economic relationship,” he said.
Kline pointed out that France’s coastal communities and landscapes can benefit from coastal protection and restoration from storms, sea level rise and other human and environmental factors that are familiar challenges. to Louisiana communities.
“CPRA has always believed that part of its mission is to share what we and our partners in the private sector, research institutions and not-for-profit organizations have learned along our coast with other parts of countries and the world that face similar challenges,” he said. “I think we have a lot to give and a lot to gain from this partnership.”
This work is supported by a grant funded by the Walton Family Foundation and administered by the Society of Environmental Journalists.
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