As global leaders gather in Dubai for the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, Indiana’s economic development officials say the state is poised to play a pivotal role in the clean energy transition.
The Indiana Economic Development Corp., the state’s public-private job creation agency, is one of seven sponsors of a two-day event hosted by Bloomberg, which is happening against the backdrop of COP28.
Bloomberg Green at COP28, which kicked off Monday, will “create an immersive experience designed to go beyond the negotiating rooms and delve into pragmatic strategies for cross-sector climate action,” according to the event website.
Other sponsors include First Abu Dhabi Bank, McKinsey Sustainability and The Climate Pledge.
“If you look at Indiana, where actually 25% of the U.S. steel is made in Indiana, it’s an economic engine, it’s a driver,” said Andrea Richter-Garry, the IEDC Senior Vice President of Global Strategy and Engagement, during a talk Monday. “So what do you need to make solar? You need racking. What do you need to make electric vehicles? Steel and other metal components. For wind turbines, it’s concrete , it’s cement. It’s these petioles that are really going to be the underpinnings of the energy transition. And it’s not hypothetical … we are poised to manufacture the energy transition and we are poised to do it now.
Salena Scardina, executive vice president of external engagement at the IEDC, is scheduled to deliver a presentation Tuesday, where she will discuss Indiana’s plan for “a green economy for the bold.”
An IEDC official said the sponsorship builds on momentum started by Gov. Eric Holcomb and former Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers, both of whom attended COP27 in Egypt in 2022 to tout the state’s green energy investments.
“Indiana’s ability to attract transformational deals is contingent upon being able to generate clean and reliable energy,” IEDC Deputy Chief of Staff Erin Sweitzer said in a statement to IBJ. “At COP28, we’ll engage with global thought leaders, and we’ll also meet with many of our companies who are pursuing their own goals. It is important to have a state perspective represented as this is where many pragmatic actions occur in this space.”
The cost of the sponsorship, which gives the IEDC access to the event for networking and meetings with industry leaders and executives in the energy space, was $600,000, Sweitzer said.
The trip comes as the IEDC looks to recruit clean energy companies to the LEAP District, a 9,000-acre advanced manufacturing park in Boone County. Eli Lilly and Co. is building two manufacturing sites there, and maps of the district indicate areas where wind and solar projects could be located. LEAP stands for Limitless Exploration/Advanced Pace.
While the state is seeing significant investments in solar energy—including a $1.5 billion, 13,000-acre solar farm in northwest Indiana, expected to be the largest solar energy operation in the country—the state still relies on coal for half of its energy needs and is the Midwest’s biggest emitter of carbon per capita. It ranks eighth in the country in carbon emissions per capita, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Indiana also recently phased out its solar net metering program, which required utilities to pay consumers the retail rate for electricity that their solar panels contribute to the energy grid. Clean energy advocates say the changes discourage residential solar energy usage and make Indiana less competitive with other states looking to recruit solar companies.
At COP21 in 2015, participating countries agreed to limit global warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit compared to pre-industrial levels by 2050. Climate scientists project emissions must be halved by 2030 to achieve that goal.