He warned that if the United States doesn't move forward on clean energy, it risks falling behind China where the government is spending almost $100 billion a year to support renewable energy and clean energy efficiency.
And China is not doing it just to address climate change issues, but because it sees an economic opportunity. "They're really focusing investing in the clean energy field to serve the needs of the world," Locke said at the Reuters Washington Summit.
"And so that's why it's very important that we pass clean energy legislation because there's so many investors, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists who are sitting on the sidelines waiting for that certainty," he said. "They just want to know what the rules of the game are, what the tax incentives are, what the tax rules and regulations are before they commit."
The longer the U.S. government takes to pass comprehensive energy legislation, "the farther ahead the Chinese will be and we certainly do not want 10 years from now Shanghai and other parts of China to be the Silicon Valley of the clean energy field," Locke said.