Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.

Roundtable Discussion, U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, Hangzhou, China

Printer-friendly version

AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS

202-482-4883

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
Roundtable Discussion, U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade
Hangzhou, China

Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for the kind words. And thank you to our hosts for inviting me to speak with you.

As you know, I am here in Hangzhou this week to co-chair the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade. I’m looking forward to addressing many issues that are critical to the positive economic relationship the United States and China enjoy.

And high on this list is energy.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu and I were in China in July to explore areas of cooperation in the development and production of clean energy and energy efficiency technologies.

Effective collaboration between our countries on clean energy is critical for our environment and the health and well-being of our people.

And there is no question: Clean energy may be the greatest economic opportunity of the 21st century.

I am pleased to welcome the creation of the U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program, an innovative new public-private partnership that will deploy the expertise of U.S. companies to help develop clean energy solutions in China.

Tomorrow, a memorandum of understanding will be signed by our U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

This new partnership will provide an opportunity for U.S. companies to work with their Chinese counterparts – as well as with the U.S. and Chinese governments – to remove barriers to clean energy development, accelerate project development, explore standards harmonization and share regulatory best practices.

And we will be focusing on four very promising areas of collaboration, among others: smart grid development, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and clean energy technologies.

This effort reflects an ongoing partnership between the Department of Commerce, USTDA and U.S. industry to create mutually beneficial partnerships that will lead our countries into the next generation of clean energy development. I would like to thank Lee Zak, the Acting Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, for her leadership on this innovative program.

I would also like to recognize the important work of the U.S.-China Clean Energy Forum, led by a bipartisan mix of former Ambassadors, Cabinet secretaries and business leaders. The Forum has worked collaboratively with the Chinese side for two years and has developed initiatives aimed at transforming our energy economies, like the China GreenTech Initiative.

Through the Initiative, more than 80 of the world's leading technology and services companies, entrepreneurs, investors, NGOs and policy advisors have come together to define GreenTech market opportunities and solutions that will help contribute to building a sustainable world and spur clean energy development.

As two of the world’s most productive and innovative economies, the United States and China are uniquely positioned to make rapid progress in these areas.

And as the world's two biggest emitters of carbon emissions, we also have a responsibility to act.

Widespread deployment of energy efficiency and clean energy technologies will be essential to keep our economies growing while preventing the catastrophic effects of climate change.

U.S. energy consumption is expected to increase by over 40 percent by 2030, while China’s energy consumption may nearly double.

In the next 20 years, it’s estimated that China will build nearly 40 billion square meters worth of new homes, offices, warehouses and factories.

That’s the equivalent of between 20,000 and 50,000 new skyscrapers.

It will require an enormous amount of energy to build, let alone power this new development.

I am proud to say that President Obama has already done more to spur the development of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies than any president in the history of the United States.

He has poured billions into incentivizing innovations in green technologies. And he has called for the creation of a national market based cap on carbon emissions that will mitigate climate change and spur entrepreneurs across America to enter the clean energy market.

China’s leaders have begun making important progress confronting the causes of climate change.

They should rightly be lauded for taking actions that are commensurate with the energy challenges we face.

Almost 40 percent of China’s domestic economic stimulus is going toward green projects.

China has already adopted the most aggressive energy efficiency program in the entire world, and they are on track to exceed many of their renewable energy adoption goals.

As early as last year, the Chinese government set a goal of deploying 5,000 megawatts of wind power throughout the country by 2010. Now it appears that China will have 30,000 megawatts by the end of next year—six times their original goal.

But it’s a sign of just how far we have to go, that China and the United States still get about three-quarters of their energy from fossil fuels.

That’s why we must do more.

It’s been said that it’s unjust to ask China and other developing nations to drastically reduce their carbon emissions, when countries like the United States have spent 150 years using coal, oil and other dirty fuels to grow their economies.

That's an understandable point, but one of no concern to Mother Nature. She doesn’t discriminate between carbon that comes from the United States or China, Europe or India.

And she will ignore attempts to explain the sins of the future by pointing out sins others made in the past.

We all share the same atmosphere and we’ll all suffer the catastrophic changes to our climate. As inhabitants of this planet, we will rise or fall together.

As we take steps together to transition toward a clean energy future, it’s important that the United States and China have the resources and the human talent to not only avert climate change, but to spur the world’s next great growth industry.

U.S. companies have considerable advanced technology that could assist China in its clean energy transition, and I am committed to doing whatever it takes to make it easier for American companies to operate here.

One of the most promising avenues of combating climate change and creating economic growth is energy efficiency technology.

Efficiency is the “low-hanging fruit” of the world’s energy challenge.

The UN Foundation recently said that “governments should exploit energy efficiency as their energy resource of first choice because it is the least expensive and most readily scalable energy option.”

Efficiency simply maximizes the energy derived from existing sources.

An upfront investment in efficiency is on average five times cheaper than investments in new supply. And it is immune to the troubling vagaries of the energy market.

Efficiency is economical whether oil is $20 or $200 a barrel, because it is not competing with fossil fuels.

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the growth rate of worldwide energy consumption could be cut by more than half over the next few decades through more energy-efficiency efforts, and it could be achieved with technology.

It's no wonder that efficiency has lately been referred to as the “fifth fuel,” along with coal, nuclear, gas and oil.

To speed up the development of energy efficiency solutions, as well as the production of new fuels and other new energy technologies, it’s critical that U.S. and Chinese firms leverage each other’s talents.

American companies have advanced technologies that can benefit China’s clean energy companies.

And China’s strong and forward thinking rules for clean energy production can help spur more American and Chinese innovators into the clean energy market.

One excellent example of this cooperation is the Cummins-Hangzhou Public Transit hybrid bus project, which shows how cooperation can flourish when partners’ goals are aligned.

But an absolutely essential component of clean energy innovation is know-how, and China must do more to strengthen its intellectual property protections.

China must ensure that the entrepreneurs and innovators that collaborate on solutions to climate change are assured that their ideas are protected and prevented from theft.

It’s been said that reward is the mother of progress. Patent protection—the stringent enforcement of intellectual property rights – is an essential incentive to innovation and progress.

Outside my office in Washington, D.C. is engraved a quote by Abraham Lincoln, a patent holder himself, which reads, “The patent system added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.”

We need to do everything we can to turn the “fire of genius” to one of the greatest challenges of our time—climate change.

Strong protection in China for the intellectual property of energy saving technologies is crucial to the deployment and development of these new green technologies.

And it’s crucial for the future of this planet.

Our energy challenge is so big, that it will demand millions of smart people around the world searching for solutions—and we have to make sure robust IP protections are in place to reward that work.

Today in 2009, the United States and China have the power and the obligation to alter history for the betterment of our people and the world by making clean energy the prime engine of economic growth in the 21st century.

And I'm looking forward to working with the new U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program and the U.S.-China Clean Energy Forum to make our small contribution to this great cause.