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Remarks at Opening Ceremony, Bright Green Expo, Copenhagen, Denmark

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

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Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
Remarks at Opening Ceremony, Bright Green Expo
U.N. Conference on Climate Change
Copenhagen, Denmark

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His Royal Highness Crown Prince Fréderik, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rásmussen, Minister for Trade Ewa Björling, Adam Holm, visiting dignitaries, ladies and gentlemen:

It is an honor to be here to participate in the opening of this important trade event.

Bright Green features the newest, most exciting technology for mitigating greenhouse gases, and for creating a cleaner, more energy efficient world.

As you may have noticed, there is also another event going on in this beautiful city. I was at the Bella Center yesterday speaking to the climate change delegates. I am pleased to see that there is a strong sense of urgency at this summit, and recognition from countries large and small, that as inhabitants of this one planet, we are all in this together.

But when the delegates get through with the hard work of setting goals and the framework to make those goals a reality, the world will turn to the business community to deliver the technologies, products, and services essential to mitigating climate change.

Many of those promising technologies are on display here at Bright Green.

As Commerce Secretary, I am here to see and support what businesses are doing to transform the way the world uses energy.

And I am here to say loud and clear that American businesses have the technology, the expertise and the experience to help countries around the world reach their climate and energy goals.

The United States produces more wind power, bio-electricity, geothermal power, concentrated solar power and waste-to-energy than any other country in the world.

In each of the past two years, wind power has been the greatest source of increased electricity-generating capacity in the United States. In 2008, we led the world in the installation of new wind capacity.

And despite the difficult credit conditions caused by the recent economic crisis, venture capital dollars are continuing to flow to promising clean energy companies in the United States.

The U.S. is not only leading in renewable energy, but also in energy efficiency. We have more green-buildings, energy-efficient appliances and light-weight high-technology lithium-ion batteries in use than anywhere else.

And we are working hard to build more intelligence into the energy network from the home to the grid.

All these technologies are on display in these halls by leading U.S. and international companies.

Important US exhibitors here today include:

  • Bio-fuels companies working on advanced algae production to harness energy.
  • A leading-edge company that has designed bio-mass fuels that can be co-fired with coal, or replace coal completely in existing plants.
  • A company that has installed the largest photovoltaic solar laminate system in the State of Florida.
  • A variety of leading waste-to-energy companies including some that already have state-of-the art plants operating here in Denmark.
  • Energy service companies that lead the world in providing increased energy efficiency in the office and the home, and
  • An array of information technology companies that are making products that will assist energy users in making smarter decisions.

These companies have solutions that aren’t merely theoretical. They are ready for prime time, and ready to enter very promising markets.

Consider this for a moment:

In the United States, over 60 percent of our electricity is consumed in buildings, and yet many buildings in America and around the world are still woefully inefficient in how they are constructed, heated and cooled.

Consider for a moment that in most parts of the world, we still make drywall by superheating gypsum the same way we did almost 100 years ago.

We still make cement by superheating limestone essentially the same way we did almost 200 years ago.

And we continue to lose massive amounts of our heating and cooling due to inefficient windows, insulation and other building materials.

We’ve got U.S. companies who can fix these problems, and who can do it affordably.

The U.S. participants at Bright Green also include one of the world’s leaders in carbon sequestration research—a technology that will be vitally important for the United States as well as for the developing world.

The bottom line is this: the products and services displayed here offer real solutions to climate change issues right now.

And across the board, U.S. companies are making significant internal commitments to increased energy efficiency, sustainability and decreasing carbon footprints.

One of the companies at the show today specializes in helping other companies plan, implement and measure carbon reduction programs.

These companies don't just have great potential for improving the environment, but also for growing the economy and creating new green jobs.

Already investments in the U.S. green technology sector are exceeding rates that were seen at the height of the investment in the Internet. And we are seeing significant job creation.

Between 1998 and 2007 for example, clean energy jobs in the U.S. grew almost three times as fast as other jobs.

U.S. companies continue to develop new approaches and new technologies every day that will generate even more jobs.

I know businesses are taking substantial risks in pursuing answers to climate change challenges.

And governments have to create the atmosphere to make those risks acceptable and reasonable.

And I'm proud to say that in just under a year in office, President Obama has already done more to mitigate climate change and create positive incentives for clean energy and efficiency than any president in United States history.

One of the first major pieces of legislation signed by the president was our American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which included over $80 billion in clean energy investment for everything from the development of a national smart grid and advanced car batteries to incentives for the production of wind and solar power

In May, President Obama announced the first-ever joint fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and trucks.

Last week, President Obama announced that the United States would commit to a 17 percent reduction of our greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 over 2005 levels and an 83 percent reduction by 2050.

These steps are unprecedented in U.S. history. As we move forward with negotiations this week in Copenhagen, these measures and the promise of many more to come should serve as a crystal-clear signal that the United States is serious about fighting climate change.

We are all concerned about the planet we live on and the escalating effects on our environment from climate change. We must all work together to find solutions to meet these challenges.

Bright Green is a clear demonstration that U.S. companies, and companies from around the world, have the technology, services, and knowledge that will be crucial to implementing a comprehensive response to climate change.

World leaders can set goals and targets, but it will be industry that will take up the practical challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

I encourage all of you to visit the Bright Green exhibits.

And I especially would like to invite you to visit and network with the many outstanding U.S. exhibitors and company visitors participating in Bright Green.

Thank you for sharing this time with me.