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Remarks at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference

Deputy Secretary John Negroponte
Washington, DC
March 4, 2008

Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte delivers opening remarks entitled The Challenge and Charge to the Attendees at WIREC 2008.Thank you, Paula, for that kind introduction.

Let me also recognize Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, who will be speaking after me, and thank USDA for their strong support for this conference.

Representatives of private industry, government, non-governmental organizations, international organizations; distinguished guests; Ladies and Gentlemen: It’s a privilege to welcome you to the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference, or “WIREC”, as we confront a three-fold challenge that will affect generations to come in every corner of the globe.

Our task is to develop the policies, incentives, and forms of international cooperation that will realize the full benefits of renewable energy in order to:

1. Ensure adequate supplies of energy for all economies, large and small, in the future;

2. Exercise responsible stewardship of the environment; and

3. Promote continued growth of the global economy in the decades ahead.

This task and these goals affect all of us in the international community. So we in the United States appreciate your willingness to spend the next three days in Washington surveying the common opportunities that lie before us in the broad, dynamic field of renewable energy.

Last September, when President Bush addressed the Major Economies Meeting, he called energy security and climate change “two of the great challenges of our time.” The good news is that addressing these challenges offers immense benefits to us all.

Clean, renewable energy would alleviate some of the most pressing energy security dilemmas faced by many nations present here today. It would open up new frontiers for industrial production, commercial interaction, and technological innovation. And it would accelerate economic growth, with all of its associated benefits, within the developing world – with no negative impact on the environment.

Existing energy technologies cannot meet the dual requirement of satisfying the growing global demand for energy while also reducing carbon emissions to levels that the best science indicates are necessary. That is why it is imperative that we bring to market new energy technologies that diminish our dependence on fossil fuels.

Each of us here today is committed to finding ways to achieve a rapid scale-up of renewable energy technologies, and we meet with the shared conviction that we can do better. Only by working together can we transform our existing energy systems and increase access to clean energy to improve air quality, address climate change, and expand our economies. The UN Climate Conference in Bali underscored this point. There the world spoke with one voice in adopting a roadmap toward a new, post-2012 climate change arrangement.

As President Bush reaffirmed last September, the United States is committed to working with all 191 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to support our shared goals. We seek an international solution to climate change that is environmentally effective and economically sustainable, one that involves strong commitments from all major economies, developing and developed alike, including our own.

We will continue to discuss these issues in the Major Economies Process, with the aim of providing a detailed contribution to the UN Framework Convention negotiations at a Leaders meeting this summer. Last fall, the President also called for the Clean Technology Fund, an international initiative that we expect to grow to $10 billion over the next few years. This fund will provide a financial spark to ignite new clean technology projects around the world. We hope it will also transform markets to help expand the adoption of clean and renewable energy technologies.

This year’s WIREC is, in our view, as an important opportunity to further the goal that united the world in Johannesburg, at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development: to “substantially increase the global share of renewable energy.”

Of course, meeting this goal cannot be the work of government alone. Universal deployment and adoption of clean energy is a goal that requires our research communities, our industrial sectors, and our business communities to play major roles. It is our job in government to work with all parties and cooperate with them in devising ways to amplify the impact of their creative advances. The guiding principle of WIREC is that government policy must facilitate the real solutions that science, commerce, and industry create together.

Heartening progress already is being made. Renewable energy once was a niche market. That’s no longer the case. Just ask the bankers and investment fund managers joining us for WIREC. They are pursuing investment opportunities for renewable energy in every corner of the world. Here in the United States, we have significantly increased both public and private investment in renewable energy. Wind, solar, and biofuels are fulfilling a growing percentage of our energy needs, and the pace of energy transformation is quickening.

Over the next three days, we will hear from the leading actors and analysts in the field of renewable energy. We will hear from policy makers and project specialists, from engineers and entrepreneurs, from bankers and bureaucrats, and from diplomats and developers.

Our goal is to share the best thinking on renewable energy so that all of us can replicate the policies, technologies, and business models that have proven successful.

It is for this reason that we will call on everyone participating in WIREC – national leaders and local leaders, CEOs and NGOs – to make a voluntary pledge of what your organization can do to increase the share of renewable energy in the global market. Taken together, these pledges will constitute the Washington International Action Program. With the help of the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, we will revisit these pledges at the next International Renewable Energy Conference and report on the progress we are making.

Many of you have already submitted your pledge, and we thank you for it. As inspiration for those who have not yet decided on your commitment, let me highlight Denmark’s groundbreaking pledge to reduce fossil fuel consumption, to increase both energy efficiency and its share of renewable energy, and to double funding for research and development.

Ladies and gentlemen: the work that you have been doing, are doing this week, and will continue to do when you go home, will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in each of our countries, and contribute to the social, economic, and environmental wellbeing of our fellow citizens. Thank you for your efforts. We in the United States share your goals and look forward to working with you in the days, months, and years ahead.

Thank you very much.

Released on March 4, 2008

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