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 You are in: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs > Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs > Releases > Remarks > 2004

Southern States Energy Board -- Chairman's Forum on Carbon Management

John F. Turner, Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Remarks to the Southern States Energy Board
Washington, DC
May 20, 2004

(As prepared for delivery)

Thank you very much for that kind introduction, Representative Skipper. I want to thank the Southern States Energy Board (SSEB) for inviting me to join you. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Organizations such as yours understand that a growing economy is essential to continued environmental improvement. SSEB has promoted policies that safeguard the local environment while spurring economic development. I salute SSEB for that philosophy and for undertaking discussions such as these at the same time that you are engaged in the important work of guiding the region’s power policy.

The Bush Administration shares your goal of developing innovative methods to reduce pollution, provide affordable, reliable, and secure energy resources, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One of my bureau’s chief missions is to persuade foreign governments to join us in projects to develop transformational new technologies for cleaner, more efficient energy. With a cleaner energy supply we can reduce the number of people who suffer from respiratory illness whose symptoms are exacerbated by breathing polluted air. We can foster economic growth -- expanding the circle of opportunity and lifting people out of poverty. And we can provide responsible stewardship of the Earth by addressing the long-term challenge of global climate change.

I strongly believe that we must work to develop transformational technologies if we are to find a lasting solution to climate change. A major scientific study published in Science in November 2002 made this point succinctly. The authors determined that existing energy technologies, even with substantial enhancements, could not meet the world’s future need for energy and simultaneously deliver the emission reductions necessary ultimately to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system. In fact, one of world’s great challenges is addressing the severe problem of energy poverty in developing countries. We can only meet both of these challenges by cooperating internationally on developing transformational new energy technologies.

President Bush emphasized the links among economic growth, environmental improvement, and technological development in his February 14, 2002 speech outlining his Administration’s climate change policies. He said, “Our nation must have economic growth -- growth to create opportunity; growth to create a higher quality of life for our citizens. Growth is also what pays for investments in clean technologies, increased conservation, and energy efficiency.” He also said that the hope of growth and opportunity and prosperity is universal, particularly in the world’s poorest nations. He noted that growth and technological development are the solution, not the problem, and not just here in America but around the world.

That is why the U.S. is investing in new technologies that will help the United States and other countries utilize fossil fuels, including coal, in a cleaner and cost-effective way. Carbon sequestration -- the capturing of carbon dioxide before it is emitted and storing it underground -- is a top priority for the U.S.

I am delighted to learn that last August SSEB was awarded one of the Department of Energy’s seven Regional Carbon Sequestration partnerships. Your enthusiasm for this program will help demonstrate the promise of a very exciting idea. In addition to domestic programs such as this one, international cooperation in carbon sequestration research is a key aspect of our approach.

For example, the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, a Bush Administration initiative, is a multilateral effort to advance technologies that capture and store carbon emissions. It offers a way for nations to collaborate in a manner that focuses the world's best minds on the most challenging problems. The Forum was inaugurated formally at a ministerial meeting last June. There, 12 coal producing and coal consuming nations and the European Commission signed an international charter establishing a framework for cooperative research and development. Since then, three more nations have joined the forum and we are in the process of preparing for the Forum’s second ministerial meeting, which will be held in Melbourne, Australia in September.

In tandem with this, the U.S. is also sponsoring a $1 billion, 10-year demonstration project to create the world's first coal-based, zero-emissions power plant known as FutureGen. It will serve a "living prototype" of new carbon sequestration technologies and produce both electricity and hydrogen.

These are exciting projects, but we are also looking beyond traditional energy sources. President Bush recognized the promise of transformational technologies when he announced his groundbreaking plan to change our nation’s energy future to one that utilizes the most abundant element in the universe -- hydrogen.

Hydrogen is attractive because it has a high energy content, and it produces no pollution when used to create energy in fuel cells. It can be produced from a number of different sources, including renewable resources, fossil fuels, and nuclear energy. Over the next 5 years, the United States has pledged $1.7 billion to help develop clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles and the infrastructure necessary to run them.

In addition, we’re bringing together the world’s best intellects to advance global hydrogen research. Using existing bilateral and multilateral cooperation on hydrogen and fuel cell technology as a foundation, we’ve built the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy. Formed in November of 2003, this partnership will help the world advance toward a sustainable hydrogen economy and to address our greenhouse gas emissions levels. Currently, 15 nations and the European Community are working toward this goal.

Other key technological efforts include development of a new safer, more affordable, and more proliferation-resistant nuclear systems to produce electricity. We are developing these technologies through the multilateral Generation IV International Forum. Nuclear power has been a safe source of electricity in Asia, Europe, and the United States for decades, without greenhouse gas emissions.

In the longer-term, we are looking toward a number of other clean energy options, including fusion energy. While it remains a great challenge, nuclear fusion -- the energy of the sun and stars -- could provide an abundant source of emission-free energy.

Taken together, these technology initiatives illustrate the American philosophy of solving our energy, economic, and environmental challenges in harmony. Not only will they reduce air pollution and ensure secure, reliable, affordable, and cleaner energy to power economic growth and development across the globe, they provide the only real path toward reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

Just as one country is not the source of these global problems, one country alone cannot solve them. International partnerships will be integral to our success in all of these areas, especially our partnerships with key industrial and developing countries.

Similarly, these efforts must be undertaken in partnership with organizations like SSEB. Together we can tap the power of markets, harness the promise of technology, and enlist the ingenuity of the human race to make progress in this sustained effort. Together we can develop and perfect the new technologies that will transform the way our children and grandchildren live. Thank you.

Released on May 20, 2004

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