Gov. Eric Holcomb is leaving Indiana on Saturday for an African destination where he likely won't encounter many of his fellow Republicans.
The Hoosier chief executive announced Wednesday he's spending next week at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, alongside Indiana Commerce Secretary Brad Chambers.
The event, known as COP27, is the 27th annual Conference of the Parties to assess global progress in combating "dangerous human interference with the climate system," in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change initially signed by the United States and 153 other countries in 1992 at Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Holcomb is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the conference — attended by representatives of more than 200 countries, as well as subnational leaders, business executives and academics — detailing Indiana's efforts to transition to clean energy infrastructure and apply innovation to the state's energy mix.
In an exclusive interview with The Times, Holcomb said there are great stories to tell about what Indiana as a whole, and particularly businesses and institutions in Northwest Indiana, are doing to spur innovation, collaboration and next-generation technologies.
"I look forward to presenting a long list of practical and pragmatic steps that have occurred in the state of Indiana in terms of increasing alternative energy supply," Holcomb said.
"The market is moving this way on its own, but we certainly have real alignment now with government, academia and the private sector. And other places around the world that we compete against simply don't," he added.
The governor specifically cited Whiting-based BP's efforts to reduce refinery emissions and innovate in hydrogen as examples of worldwide companies already making massive investments in Indiana's green economy.
He also noted the Cleveland Cliffs steel mills in East Chicago and Burns Harbor are continuing to find more efficient means of churning out the steel that goes into the electric, hybrid and hydrogen-powered vehicles of today and the future.
In addition, Holcomb said countless suppliers and other small businesses in the Region and across the state are indelibly linked to the innovations and successes imagined and developed by those two global giants.
"As important as those technologies are and the investments that they're making, to me it's also very supportive of the tens of thousands that are employed somewhere along that value chain," Holcomb said.
"I want to make sure we don't wake up two years from now or 10 years from now when an industry has transformed itself and we just sat by and watched the paint dry," he added.
Holcomb acknowledged many Republicans cast doubt on human-caused climate change. But he sees no reason not to brag about Indiana's efforts to combat it in front of an international audience likely unaware of the state's achievements and looking for places to bring their businesses.
"I will show up in support of all the investments that are occurring and that we hope to be a part of in the coming years," he said. "Change is a fact of life and technology and innovation are exciting, and I'm excited to share the Indiana story about our all-of-the-above approach."
Before heading to Egypt, Holcomb is set Thursday to join executives from Doral Renewables LLC to break ground on the second phase of the $1.5 billion Mammoth Solar farm across 13,000 acres in Starke and Pulaski counties in rural Northwest Indiana.
The governor said he expects coal, oil and natural gas will remain the core components of Indiana's energy systems well into the future.
But he said Hoosiers need to be willing to embrace change over time, just as his great-grandfather, a blacksmith in Knox County, saw his world transform during his lifetime from a 19th century horse-and-buggy economy to a 20th century dominated by the internal combustion engine.
"I'm saying, 'What can we do in the state of Indiana to be an example, to be actually a leader, and not left behind?'" he said. "We want to make sure that as other options become not just viable, but affordable, that we are able to meet the market's demand."
Holcomb said his Nov. 10 address in Egypt, during the Achieving Measurable Climate Benefits through Innovative Infrastructure Investments in North America session, also will focus on how Purdue University, Indiana University, the University of Notre Dame, the state and local governments are collaborating to ensure clean and reliable energy security, stability and innovation.
"I embrace the fact that we're always going to be leaning into new innovations, always seeking to be more efficient and improve things, and this is a huge strategic area where the state of Indiana can truly harness all the synergy of all these different sources: wind, solar, nuclear, hydro, oil, gas, coal. We've got it all," Holcomb said.
During their stay at the UN climate conference, Holcomb and Chambers plan to participate in additional discussions focused on clean energy and technology with representatives of international businesses, universities, foreign governments and global organizations. They'll also attend a reception at the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt.
"As a state, Indiana is squarely focused on building the economy of the future — one that is powering and is powered by sustainable solutions and clean energy," Chambers said.
"We are seeing unprecedented momentum, and Indiana has an incredible story to tell. I look forward to advancing future-focused conversations and partnerships at COP27 that will usher in new innovations and investments, fueling the global economy while reducing our carbon footprint," he added.
The Hoosiers are scheduled to return to Indiana on Nov. 12.
This will be Holcomb's 14th foreign trade mission since taking office in 2017 and his first visit to Egypt as governor.
The costs of the state delegation, including staffers from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and the governor's office, are being covered by private donations to the Indiana Economic Development Foundation.
Northwest Indiana 2022 early voting sites, hours
Lake County Government Center, 2293 N. Main St., Crown Point
Judge Lorenzo Arredondo Justice Center, 3711 Main St., East Chicago
Gary Public Library, 220 W. 5th Ave., Gary
Lake County Courthouse, 232 Russell St., Hammond
Hobart Police and Community Center, 705 E. 4th St., Hobart
Lowell Town Hall, 501 E. Main St., Lowell
Munster Town Hall, 1005 Ridge Rd., Munster
Schererville Town Hall, 10 E. Joliet St., Schererville
St. John Township Assessor's Office, 9157 Wicker Ave., St. John
Wicker Park Social Center, 8554 Indianapolis Blvd., Highland
Winfield Public Library, 10771 Randolph St., Winfield
Chesterton Town Hall, 790 Broadway, Chesterton
Hebron Community Center, 611 N. Main St., Hebron
North Porter County Government Complex, 3560 Willowcreek Road, Portage
Porter County Administration Building, 155 Indiana Ave., Valparaiso
Union Township Fire Station #2, 267 N. 600 W., Valparaiso
United Steelworkers Hall, 1100 Max Mochal Hwy. (SR 149), Chesterton
Valparaiso Fire Training Center, 355 Evans Ave., Valparaiso
LaPorte County Office Complex, 302 W. 8th St., Michigan City
LaPorte County Complex, 809 State St., LaPorte
Former Coolspring Library, 7089 W 400 N, Michigan City
Tourists film parachutists as they descend toward the Giza Pyramids, near Cairo on Wednesday. More than 100 parachutists from 16 countries participated in the "Jump Like a Pharaoh" as Egypt prepares for the COP27 international forum, which a group of Hoosier officials, including Gov. Eric Holcomb, will attend starting Sunday.