Climate Change, Energy Security and the Clean Technology RevolutionPaula J. Dobriansky, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
Remarks at the 2nd EU-US Business Roundtable on "Energy and Technology: Powering the Green Revolution, Our Options for the Future, Hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Spain
September 29, 2008
Thank you, Jaime, for that kind introduction. It is an honor to speak at this important conference. I want to thank the American Chamber of Commerce for organizing this timely gathering, and I hope all of you have found today’s sessions as valuable as I have.
I also want to recognize and thank Governor Pawlenty for his leadership and groundbreaking work on renewables, Ambassador Aguirre for his fantastic work here in Spain and for bringing a top-notch renewables delegation to the United States earlier this year, and Under Secretary of Agriculture Tom Dorr, who was a great partner in putting on the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference earlier this year.
Almost exactly one year ago today, President Bush said at the State Department that energy security and climate change are two of the great challenges of our time. Having participated in the UN climate talks for the past 7 years, I firmly believe that all nations are committed to addressing these challenges. What unites us is a common desire to grow our economies while at the same time protecting our planet for present and future generations.
This is not a small task, but we are making progress. Domestically, the United States, Spain, and many other nations are working to put in place the ambitious, practical, and achievable mid-term national programs and strategies to combat climate change.
Multilaterally, we are working through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to forge a new global climate regime for the post-2012 period, after the Kyoto Protocol expires. We are fully committed to this process – we are working to reach consensus on an environmentally effective and economically sustainable multilateral arrangement by the December 2009 deadline agreed last year in Bali.
As Governor Pawlenty highlighted in his compelling remarks this afternoon, technology and innovation must, and will, be at the core of our solution to climate change. Existing energy technologies alone will not meet the growing global demand for energy, while also reducing emissions. Ultimately, we must develop and bring to market new energy technologies that transcend the current system of fossil fuels, carbon emissions, and economic activity. To do that, we need nothing less than a clean technology revolution.
There is cause for hope though. What we have seen over the past several years, particularly here in Spain, is that this revolution is becoming a reality. Looking around this room tonight, it is great to see so many of the people that are making this happen.
Spain’s Leadership on Renewable Energy
In February of this year, I had the pleasure of meeting with an impressive visiting delegation of Spanish government officials and renewable energy company representatives, some of whom are here today — in addition to Jaime Malet, I see Iberdrola CEO Xabier Viteri among others.
It is great to see so many familiar faces, as well as to meet new partners from the public, private and non-profit sectors who share our common commitment to renewable energy.
Spain has established itself as a powerhouse in wind production. Spain is home to two of the top ten wind companies in the world. The Spanish utility Iberdrola owns renewable power generation facilities with a capacity of 7,704 megawatts.
Spain is also among the top five national investors in renewable energy in the world. The Spanish solar photovoltaic (PV) market grew the fastest of any country’s in 2007, and Spain now hosts two of the world’s three largest solar PV and half of the world’s ten largest. Spanish company Abengoa is now constructing the world’s largest Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plant in Arizona. And the Spanish government’s goal to reach 500 megawatts of solar power by 2010 has already been exceeded.
All of these are reasons why it is fitting to hold this discussion here in Spain, a country that is aggressively pursuing a clean energy future. Spain’s commitment to the clean technology revolution is impressive, and the United States is proud to enjoy a strong partnership with Spain that cuts across both the public and private sectors.
U.S. Leadership in Advancing Clean Energy
As a major economy and a major greenhouse gas emitter, the U.S. is also serious about energy security and climate change.
U.S. investments in energy technology research have increased from $1.7 billion in 2001 to now over $4 billion per year.
We are working to advance the deployment of the full range of low-carbon energy sources. For example, under last year’s Energy Independence and Security Act, 9 billion gallons of renewable fuels must be sold in the U.S. in 2008, increasing to 36 billion gallons in 2022.
It is important to note that, as we work to boost the use of biofuels, we are also taking strong measures to minimize the impact of our biofuels usage on food prices and the environment. By 2022, nearly 60% of our 36 billion gallon goal must come from advanced or cellulosic biofuels. In other words, nearly 60% of our biofuels must come from sources other than corn ethanol by 2022. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy recently awarded a significant grant to the Spanish company Abengoa to support research and development of these advanced, second-generation biofuels.”
The public sector alone cannot bring all of these technologies to market. So one of our major common goals must be to encourage the private sector investments that will bring about a new low-carbon energy future, while ensuring continued economic growth.
As a result of legislation in recent years, there is now $42.5 billion available for federal loan guarantees to promote the deployment in the United States of clean energy technology.
The United States is also working actively, both in the public sphere and in the private sector, to help other countries bring clean energy technologies and alternative energy sources to the marketplace - from solar, and wind, and biofuels, to diesel and hybrid vehicles, and clean, safe nuclear power.
As part of our effort to advance the global development and deployment of renewable energy, the United States was privileged to host the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) in March of this year.
WIREC was the third global ministerial conference on renewable energy, building on previous conferences in Germany in 2004 and China in 2005. All told, nearly 9,000 participants from 125 countries, including 103 ministers, showed up. WIREC featured more than 70 official side events and a world-class trade show featuring exhibits from 246 organizations. India has graciously offered to host the next international renewable energy conference in 2010.
WIREC produced an International Action Program composed of more than 140 concrete pledges from governments, international organizations and the private sector to advance renewable energy. Many of these pledges – such as Spain’s to increase the use of renewables to at least 12% of all energy by 2010 – came from the European public and private sector, and we commend your leadership in this area.
The United States is also working to combat climate change and foster a clean energy future through a series of international, public-private partnerships. One of our largest such initiatives is the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP). The APP is a practical, results-oriented partnership that brings together seven of the region’s largest developed and developing countries: Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, Korea, and the United States. Partner countries collectively account for over half of the world’s economy, population, and energy use.
The APP provides an innovative public-private forum for government and industry leaders to identify opportunities to commercialize and deploy cleaner technologies across major industries. The APP’s work is spread across eight task forces, including one on renewable energy and distributed generation.
After just three years of hard work, the more than 100 projects currently endorsed by the Partnership are already yielding significant results. For example, an American APP participant, the Eaton Corporation, is now providing hybrid buses to the city of Guangzhou, China. In India, APP is working to increase the efficiency of power plants, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And another project is promoting the uptake of compact fluorescent lamps in China, by ensuring greater quality control in all CFL manufacturing in the region.
To date, the United States has appropriated over $70 million to the APP. We view this as a solid investment, since the United States has seen how effective APP activities are in promoting common knowledge among member countries in understanding their respective barriers and opportunities. This is a prerequisite for an effective negotiating environment.
Toward an Effective and Sustainable post-2012 Arrangement
As I mentioned earlier, the United States wants a successful and comprehensive arrangement on climate change for the post-2012 period. We want a deal by December 2009. We are actively engaged in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, we support the Bali Roadmap, and we want a new approach to address the key elements of the Bali Roadmap: mitigation, financing, adaptation, and technology. We also support action aimed at addressing deforestation and land misuse.
I wanted to highlight a few key elements that we feel will be essential to a successful deal in 2009.
First and foremost, it is critical to acknowledge that developed countries alone cannot solve climate change. If our efforts are to be environmentally effective and sustainable, all major economies must commit to action that will cut global emissions.
The world in 2008 is a different place than it was in 1990, just before negotiations began for the UNFCCC. In 1990, OECD countries emitted more greenhouse gas emissions than non-OECD countries. In 2008, the opposite is true.
If we are to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, emissions cuts from all major economies are necessary. That’s the environmental reality.
Just as global emissions have evolved, so too has the global economy. In 1990, capital and investment was concentrated among developed countries, but in 2008, capital is spread across the globe. What this means is that developing countries are in a stronger position today to invest in climate-friendly technologies than ever before.
It is important to point out the U.S. view that all major economies must take action to cut emissions is longstanding and bipartisan.
Legislation under active consideration in the U.S. Congress to regulate carbon dioxide contains provisions to ensure that major emerging economies cut emissions.
The United States has been consistent on this. In fact, in 1997, the U.S. Senate voted 95-0 that the United States should not be a signatory to any agreement which would limit emissions for developed countries without emissions limitations for developing countries. And, both leading U.S. presidential candidates have spoken of the vital importance of including commitments as well from major emerging economies in a future arrangement.
As we work on a future architecture, we have stressed that we need to abandon some of the artificial divides of past agreements. For example, we have advocated that all countries’ actions should have the same international legal character. For example, if some are legally or politically binding, all should be legally or politically binding.
As we push for certain common elements of a future framework, we also recognize that there will continue to be a need for differentiation in some areas. And that brings me to my second point: each country’s national actions should take into account different national circumstances. So while the character of our respective commitments may be common, the content of those commitments will vary from country to country. The U. S. commitment will look different from the commitments of China, for example. And China’s commitment, we assume, will look different from that of India, which in turn will look different from that of a small island state like Tuvalu.
We fully recognize and support the important principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities that was reiterated in the Bali Action Plan.
U.S. — EU Relationship: Working Together to Address Climate Change
Going forward, the strategic partnership between the United States and the European Union and its member states – especially Spain – will be vital to the success of a future deal. We share a long history of standing strong together to meet great challenges.
If you look at trends in absolute emissions of greenhouse gases you’ll see that the European Union and America have comparable emissions trends for the period of the Bush Administration. Net greenhouse gas emissions 2000-2006 in the United States decreased three percent. In the EU-15, they decreased 0.8%. In the EU-27, they increased slightly, by 0.2%. Following these trends is important; we can learn a lot from each other.
And, if you look at some of our joint efforts on technology, we’re taking important strides together. Last December, the United States and the EU joined in proposing an agreement within the World Trade Organization to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers for climate friendly goods and services.
Also, last September, President Bush called for the creation of a new international clean technology fund to make clean energy technologies more widely available in the developing world. The President has requested authorization from Congress for a U.S. contribution of $2 billion over the next three years for this fund, and the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Swedenhave joined Australia and Japan in stepping forward with generous contributions to this initiative.
When President Bush addressed the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference, he said “I hope you understand that you're pioneers on the frontiers of change; . . .I fully suspect that this conference will seem unbelievably outdated within a decade; that people will marvel about how far technology has helped change our habits and change the world.”
That, to me, sums up the power of the clean technology revolution that is underway today and represented in this room. Renewable energy is now mainstream. And powerful next-generation technologies are just around the corner. Nations across the globe are looking for ways to increase the clean, safe, and secure use of nuclear power. And we are all making advances in energy efficiency.
Climate change is a serious problem. The United States is committed to doing its part. And all of us – public and private sector, developed and developing countries -- must do our part and work together to address climate change, increase our energy security, and grow our economies.
Released on October 30, 2008