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Opening Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at the Partnership for Transatlantic Energy and Climate Cooperation Business Forum in Croatia


Thank you, Mr. Sirovica for the kind introduction.

I’m grateful to Minister Filipović and the Government of Croatia for hosting us today. I also want to thank Secretary Granholm and her team at the Department of Energy as well as the Atlantic Council for organizing this important event.

I’ll begin on a somber note of reflection. Almost 27 years ago, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown and 34 others perished in a plane crash while flying from Zagreb to Dubrovnik on an official trade mission.

The victims included 11 Commerce employees and two Croatians serving as support staff. In our shared grief, Croatia and the United States grew even closer. Months after the crash, the new Commerce Secretary returned here to finish the mission. It’s a stirring example of our commitment to each other even in the face of tragedy.

All of the people on that flight were working on behalf of peace, prosperity, and making our world a better place. Their example and their sacrifice continue to inspire us, and it gives me a special purpose being here representing the Commerce Department in our enduring mission to ensure economic opportunities for all.

I am honored and humbled to once again participate in the PTECC Business Forum.

Since we last met in Poland for the 2021 Forum, the importance of accelerating Europe’s clean energy transition has become more urgent for two reasons.
First, across the world, the climate crisis continues to lead to higher temperatures, rising sea levels, and weather-related shocks. We’ve witnessed severe drought exacerbated by heat waves, among other weather crises, both here in Europe and in America.

Climate change is an existential threat that sees no borders, and time is decidedly not on our side.

Second, you know all too well the acute energy crisis that Russia unleashed with its war of aggression in Ukraine. Europe’s efforts to break its dependence on Russian oil has been unprecedented. But it only underscores the importance of shifting the continent’s energy mix by rapidly growing clean energy sources.

I should add that Russia’s attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine included deliberate efforts to destroy its energy infrastructure. This too is something the United States and Europe will need to work together to rebuild.

Even as the United States and EU collaborate to support the clean energy economy on the continent, we must understand the massive market, investment, industrialization, and job opportunities it offers on both sides of the Atlantic. Working together on enabling commerce within and across borders, we can unlock the region’s abundant clean energy resources and vast carbon sequestration potential while promoting zero- and low-emissions goods and services.

So where is the Department of Commerce in our efforts to fuel this transition?

A year ago, we established the U.S.-EU Task Force on Energy Security to diversify supply and reduce energy demand. It set ambitious targets for U.S. LNG supply in both the short and long term, and last year nearly 70% of total U.S. LNG exports reached European markets, totaling approximately 75.5 billion cubic meters.
We recently launched the U.S. Clean Tech Export Competitiveness Strategy, which is leading to more international engagement on clean tech standards and intellectual property protection, as well as developing targeted trade missions and trade events.

The United States believes public-private partnerships are critical to combat the global climate crisis. We will depend heavily on the innovation and dynamism of our private sector to develop and deploy cutting-edge technologies to decarbonize every facet of our economy.

We need a surge in the development and implementation of clean energy technologies, including hydrogen, wind, solar, geothermal, nuclear and carbon capture, utilization, and storage. None of these technologies, either individually or collectively, have reached the scale needed to stabilize global temperatures and avoid the worsening threats of climate change.

This presents America and Europe alike with a massive market opportunity. Countries that make it a strategic priority to foster these industries of the future will not only help reduce emissions both within and outside their borders—they will also support economic growth.

One example of where we’re working together to deploy clean energy is Poland’s announcement that it will acquire technology for its first three nuclear power plants from a U.S.-based company, Westinghouse. This deal cements the type of long-term partnership that I believe will help Poland achieve energy security while creating thousands of clean energy jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

The U.S. Department of Commerce designed and launched the Small Modular Reactor Public-Private Program, or SMR PPP, in 2020 for exactly this reason. We are collaborating with our European partners to remove barriers to the deployment of this technology.

This program has become a key U.S. platform for sustained public-private collaboration on SMR technology between the United States and Europe. You saw an example of this with Romania’s stated intent to build a first-of-a-kind U.S. SMR . By deploying U.S. innovative clean technology first, Romania is taking an initial step—but a huge technological leap—in advancing climate action and clean energy access throughout a critical part of Europe and the world.

The United States is committed to working with PTECC member nations to improve the commercial enabling environment for attracting innovative energy and climate companies, improving financing options, and promoting partnerships.

But we all know governments can’t solve Europe’s energy challenges alone. We need strong partnerships with all of you to get the job done.

We are eager to continue our work together and learn how our public and private sector partners can contribute to the solutions Europe so urgently needs.

I believe we will meet this moment so that we can all prosper and thrive in a clean, 21st-century global economy.
Thank you.