Joe Biden Returns to the Public Eye

The vice president will talk up the need for a technology breakthrough in the climate fight.

Vice President Joe Biden will make his first public appearance in Washington since the death of his son Beau when he speaks at a White House energy summit Tuesday.

Biden is set to deliver remarks at an event highlighting $4 billion in private sector investment and executive actions aimed at sparking clean-energy innovation, as the Obama administration races to cement a legacy on climate change before the president leaves office.

The vice president will stress the need for breakthroughs in clean energy that cut greenhouse gas emissions and help stave off the worst impacts of global warming, administration officials said.

Biden has long been a champion of action to fight climate change. He has railed against Republicans in Congress who cast doubt on the science of global warming, saying that denying man-made climate change is "like denying gravity."

The vice president has not spoken publicly since his son died late last month at the age of 46 after a battle with brain cancer.

Biden's presence at the summit—where he will appear alongside top White House climate advisors Brian Deese and Dan Utech—signals that the administration views attracting attention to clean energy as a top priority.

"The President has been very focused during his time in office on trying to drive a transition to a low-carbon energy future by making targeted investments and setting incentives for new and breakthrough technologies," Deese told reporters during a press call Monday.

The White House also will announce the creation of a Clean Energy Impact Investment Center, a sort of clearinghouse for information on clean energy investment and research housed at the Energy Department.

"The idea is to make the department's resources "¦ more readily available to the public," Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told reporters. "It will provide a single point of access to information, technical assistance, sharing research and analysis "¦ [as well as] information on early stage projects and companies."

The $4 billion in private sector investment in clean energy comes from a wide array of sources. The Sierra Club Foundation and corporate giant Goldman Sachs are just two of the names on the list of organizations that answered a White House call to dole out money for clean energy innovation.

Deese called the commitments "expansive and exciting in terms of the amount of resources being put in and the targeting of innovative technology."

"We've seen very big institutions, like the University of California Board of Regents moving forward and making commitments. We've seen very small family offices and foundations stepping forward and making commitments as well. And the federal government, our administration, is doing our part," he said.