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Diplomacy in Action

Remarks at Fourth Yale-TERI Energy Summit

Robert O. Blake, Jr.
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
Washington, DC
May 13, 2013


Thanks so much for the opportunity to speak to this distinguished audience. Yale and TERI’s partnership – and leadership – to advance clean and innovative energy solutions has made this a vital forum for sharing new ideas and casting an ambitious vision for the future. TERI’s focus on clean energy solutions dates back to the mid-1970s, which turned out to be very prescient. Today, clean energy is at the center of our thinking on powering the economies of the future.

I’d like to extend special thanks to all of the CEOs and other business leaders here today. Your passion and ingenuity are central to the United States’ and India’s quest to help grow mutually beneficial clean energy ecosystems.

Ladies and gentleman, it’s a remarkable time to be engaged in a discussion about clean energy. We’ve recently seen enormous changes in the global energy landscape. And the nexus between energy and the environment is more relevant than ever.

The United States has four key priorities related to the future of energy use. Not coincidentally, each dovetail with our clean energy goals.

  • First, we will maintain our commitment to renewable energy – wind, solar, geothermal, and hydro – and put a premium on new innovation and technological advances;
  • Second, we will harness the “natural gas revolution” in the United States to meet our own energy needs as an intermediate or “bridge fuel” opportunity;
  • Third, we will continue to pursue the highest environmental standards, in the spirit of the Clean Air Act and other efforts to limit harmful emissions; and
  • Fourth, we will use existing energy more efficiently – in essence, to get more bang for our buck. That isn’t just good public policy, it makes good business sense.

There’s no doubt that our private sectors have a critical role to play in achieving these ambitious goals. But our governments have a responsibility to help foster the right environment for innovation; we must ensure that nothing stands in the way of quickly taking the best ideas conceived from Hyderabad to Houston, from Madhya Pradesh to Massachusetts, to the broadest possible market.

Simply put, governments must create policies that allow our companies to work together seamlessly. That means avoiding policies that hinder innovation, such as subsidies to local producers, measures that favor indigenous over foreign companies, or technology transfer requirements as a pre-condition for market access. We’re discussing these issues with our Indian friends through bilateral engagements like these like the Clean Energy Ministerial and the U.S.-India Energy Dialogue.

We are also expanding our bilateral cooperation on clean energy through the U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy, or PACE, which has mobilized over $1.7 billion dollars to finance clean energy initiatives. In addition, a $125 million public-private joint research center is being created that will be led by 95 government, research, and private organizations.

President Obama is taking a leadership role in these efforts. He recently called on Congress to establish an “Energy Security Trust,” which would fund groundbreaking research focused on cost-effective technologies – like electric vehicles, homegrown biofuels, fuel cells, and domestically-produced natural gas.

We are also talking to the Government of India at all levels about energy issues – from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to the Ministry of External Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Office. When we hold the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue this summer, clean energy cooperation will be a key part of the agenda.

We have much to be optimistic about. Clean energy technology is cheaper than it has ever been – according to one report photo-voltaic module prices are down 80% percent since 2008, and 20% just in the last year. In 2012 alone, a whopping 88 gigawatts of new clean energy capacity became available around the world, more than half of that from the wind sector.

Energy and climate change issues are important not just for our partnership with India, but for our broader strategy for the region. We believe that collaboration in this area can drive broader cooperation and economic connectivity, to help make the region more secure and prosperous. That’s why we’ve been such a strong supporter of regional energy and economic integration efforts to significantly increase economic connectivity across Asia.

USAID’s South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy Integration program, for example, facilitates cross-border energy trade, expand access to clean energy, and build power-sector capacity to integrate energy supplies across the entire region.

And we’ve been strong advocates for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, or TAPI, which stands to bring enormous energy relief to a region still saddled with aging coal generation facilities and inefficient power generation methods. Today, more than half of India’s power comes from coal. TAPI would help shift the region away from carbon-based energy sources and could allow for unprecedented cooperation and commercial synergy.

These efforts are creating new opportunities to expand clean energy generation, which many never thought possible. The key to their success, of course, is you – the entrepreneurs and innovators. I can’t wait to see what you will come up with next, and we stand ready to work together toward a cleaner and more prosperous future. Thank you.

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