Moderator: Good afternoon. I’d like to welcome everyone joining for today’s virtual press briefing on the 2021 Partnership for Transatlantic Energy and Climate Cooperation Ministerial. Today we are very honored to be joined by U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.
Before I turn it over to Secretary Granholm for opening remarks, I have a few comments on the procedure for asking questions. If you’re joining us via the Zoom application or link, you may submit your question at any time by clicking on the “questions and answers” tab and typing in your question. If you see a colleague, ask a question you would like Secretary Granholm to answer, you can upvote it in the queue by clicking the “like” button to the right of that question. We will try to get to as many questions as possible in the 30 minutes that we have today, so please show your support and like the questions you’d most like us to cover. You can notify us of any technical difficulties by emailing us at TheBrusselsHub@state.gov.
With that, let’s get started. Secretary Granholm, thank you so much for joining us today. I’ll turn it over to you for your opening remarks.
Secretary Granholm: Great. Thank you so much. Thank you all for joining. I do want to start by acknowledging Poland for being such generous and gracious hosts. It’s a real pleasure to be here on behalf of the United States. It’s a real pleasure to be able to signal that America is back at the table for climate action and for clean energy development around the world.
So we’re facing a moment of crisis. As President Biden said yesterday at the United Nations General Assembly, we are fast approaching a point of no return. You’ve seen explosive wildfires in Greece and in California and in Siberia, to across continents these heatwaves are unrelenting and only getting worse. And as the IPCC has warned, if we do not cut emissions quickly, these extreme weather events will continue to get worse.
So we all must act, and we must act with urgency, and we must act with ambition. This is, though, a moment of opportunity as well. The crisis presents, actually, a market opportunity for carbon-reducing technologies. All of these countries have signed on to Paris Agreements and to aggressive and ambitious commitments, and that all requires products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So those technologies will be a $23 trillion market by the end of this decade – $23 trillion dollars. That’s an enormous potential to countries on both sides of the Atlantic.
That $23 trillion dollar market is going to give us a chance to launch new businesses within growing industries to attract billions of dollars of new investment, and certainly to create millions of new jobs. It’s going to help improve the health of our citizens. It’s going to increase the wealth of their families. And it’s all because of deploying technologies that are already available as well as investing in the research and development of technologies that will achieve breakthroughs to help us achieve our common goals. And that’s why we’re eager to engage our allies like Poland, here and around the world, and an effort to tackle this climate crisis while growing our economies with clean energy.
At tomorrow’s ministerial here, we are going to officially relaunch P-TECC with a second C – that’s the Partnership for Transatlantic Energy and Climate Cooperation. We added “Climate” because we cannot talk about energy without talking about climate. The two are one harmonious conversation, one united mission. It signals our strong support for the Three Seas Initiative. It signals our close coordination with the European Commission. And that signal of adding climate and energy together also emphasizes the need to diversify energy sources and to strengthen energy security in Central and Eastern Europe.
So through the Business Forum that’s today and the Ministerial that will happen tomorrow, we’re shining a light on the many opportunities to attract billions of dollars in clean energy investment across Central and Eastern Europe. We’re going to be fostering connections in the private sector. We’ll be identifying opportunities to provide technical assistance. We’ll be plotting a path toward a more secure and resilient clean-energy future for our P-TECC partners.
So no country can solve the climate crisis on its own, but we can do it if we work together, and therefore we will all benefit from a just clean-energy transition. So I’m happy to take your questions.
Moderator: Great, thank you very much. With that, we will turn to the question and answer feature. Just remember to type your questions into the Q&A if you’d like them to be answered.
So I can see there’s several questions here about the current natural gas situation in Europe from Argus, Financial Times, Ukraine News Agency, among others. So why don’t we start with this question first: “The current gas supply crunch in Europe once again showed the importance of diversification of gas supply routes and sources. What do you think about the current gas shortage and price spike in Europe? What can the European Union member-states be doing to prevent this?”
Secretary Granholm: Well, embedded in your question is the word “diversification,” so certainly that is a component and I’ll get to that in one second. But the rise in gas prices here has raised as well serious concerns and questions on the reliability of the existing supply and security in Europe, and across administrations, the United States has been clear that we and our partners have to be prepared to continue to stand up when there are players who may be manipulating supply in order to benefit themselves.
We want to be united with our European allies in ensuring that there is a solid, secure gas supply for this winter, even as we want to continue to invest and partner on solutions, energy solutions, that help to diversify. Obviously, that’s a little bit longer-term, and we must continue to do that in an aggressive way. But clearly, we want to all have our eye on the issue of any manipulation of gas prices by hoarding or the failure to produce adequate supply. So we are looking at this very seriously and we are united with our European allies in making sure you get adequate, affordable gas supply for this summer – this winter. Excuse me.
Moderator: Great, thank you very much. Our next question comes to us from Katerina Sokou with Kathimerini in Greece. Her question is: “Do you have a plan for scientific cooperation with European countries on energy innovation? On which fields, and to what purpose? Could any of the products of such cooperation be treated as U.S. products in the context of the Build Back Better Plan?”
Secretary Granholm: I love this question. Yes, we – so I’ve – I co-chair, along with Secretary Blinken, of the U.S.-EU Energy Council. Lots of cooperation on innovation, so let me just give you a couple of examples. We have Mission Innovation. Under that Mission Innovation, we’re co-leading a mission with Denmark and with Norway that focuses on zero-emission shipping, for example. Greece shut down 13 of its 14 coal-fired power plants, or will be shutting them down by 2023. And we have been actively working with the Greek Government on carbon capture, use, and sequestration technology to remove CO2 emissions at its remaining coal plant.
Clean hydrogen – almost every European country that I have spoken with is really excited about the possibility of developing hydrogen cooperation. At the Department of Energy we launched clean Hydrogen Earthshot that is to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen to $1 for one kilogram within one decade, and we are partnering on these strategies, technologies, to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen through a research mission with European countries as well.
And let me just say, the Department of Energy has 17 national laboratories, and throughout the course of any given year there’s 15,000 researchers, scientists, innovators who come from European countries to be able to visit our labs and use our facilities. So that cross-pollination is very robust, and we’re very excited to cooperate with our European partners, especially here at P-TECC, to help developing countries actually deploy clean energy and achieve a net-zero economy, as the President was advocating at his UN General Assembly remarks yesterday.
Moderator: Great, thank you very much. Our next question comes to us from Tea Blažević with N1 Televizija in Croatia. The question is: “Do you think we are ambitious enough, both Europe and the U.S., when we talk about energy transition and climate neutrality?”
Secretary Granholm: Well, I’ll just say this. Europe is certainly ambitious. The United States has put forward a plan that is very ambitious. Together, we’re very ambitious. But it’s – none of it is enough yet, because it’s a global problem. So we have to continue to accelerate our ambition, we have to do it with urgency, and we’ve got to get our global partners to do the same since we are all in this together.
So the President’s Build Back Better Agenda includes getting 100 percent of the U.S.’s electricity from clean sources by 2035. It involves reducing our CO2 emissions by over 50 percent by 2030 and getting to net zero by 2050. That’s very ambitious. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We have to get a Congress that’s on board with his plan to be able to make sure that the policies that he’s put forward are passed so we can achieve those ambitious goals. I know Europe is working on similar measures.
But our department, the Department of Energy – it’s one of the reasons why we’re here in Poland, is because we have been talking about a partnership in the area of nuclear. Nuclear technology is clean baseload power, and we want to make sure that those countries that want access to nuclear can have it, and we’re really excited that we may have this partnership here with Poland, but other countries can also adopt not just nuclear – solar, wind, hydropower, onshore/offshore wind. We want to make sure geothermal is a piece of the solution. Energy efficiency technologies. Clean hydrogen. Carbon capture, use, and sequestration. Biofuels. Batteries for both storage, batteries for electric vehicles. There are so many technologies that we can cooperate on and that we all have to be ambitious to make sure that we achieve this goal so that our shared home, this planet, does not continue to experience these extreme weather events and that our people are protected.
Moderator: Great, thank you very much. Our next question comes to us from Frederic Simon of EURACTIV.com, Belgium. And the question is: “What is the U.S. view on the EU39’s carbon border adjustment mechanism proposal and the idea of creating a climate club of likeminded countries with carbon taxes on imports?”
Secretary Granholm: So the Biden administration has been looking at the proposed EU carbon border adjustment mechanism since the beginning. We are carefully monitoring how the mechanism is going to develop, how it’s going to count the content of products, the carbon content of products, how it will be implemented for parties that do and some that do not have an explicit price on carbon. So we are watching that. And at the same time, the United States is cleaning up our own supply chain, including in the very-hard-to-decarbonize industrial sector. And if we do that, we believe strongly that our U.S. products will be highly competitive even with countries that may create a carbon border adjustment.
So we are very interested and actively watching.
Moderator: Great, thank you very much. Our next question comes to us from Wojciech Jakóbik with the Biznes Alert in Poland. He has a two-part question: “How could the U.S. support gas diversification in the Three Seas region and in the context of U.S.-Poland-Ukraine cooperation?” And the second part: “How does the” – or, “How is the U.S. Government able to cooperate in the framework of Polish nuclear programs to make it possible without a delay or a budget increase?”
Secretary Granholm: Yes, so we are obviously very supportive of the Three Seas Initiative. We want to partner with, obviously, all of those countries to help, if we can, to partner certainly on technologies that will achieve a reduction in CO2 emissions and give an opportunity for economic growth in sectors that make sense for individual countries to really dive in on.
With respect to nuclear energy, as I was mentioning, because we are facing this existential threat from climate change, there are some countries I know that are uncomfortable with nuclear energy. But I will say that for countries that do want it, we cannot afford to ignore clean, safe, reliable sources of energy like the world-class nuclear reactors that are being built in the United States and by U.S. vendors internationally. Westinghouse, for example, has over half of the world’s running nuclear reactors now. They have been operating for 60 years – very reliable, very safe, very clean. And our collaboration to develop Poland’s civil nuclear program is vital to Poland achieving EU carbon reduction targets and to guarantee its energy security.
So that dispatchable, clean, uninterruptible power is the gold standard of what every nation is looking for in our quest to get to our goals of CO2 reduction. As I mentioned, we are very grateful to the Government of Poland for the confidence and the trust that they have placed in the United States as a partner for Poland’s nuclear program. We firmly believe that the U.S. does have the best technology and the best solution for what Poland is trying to achieve. And as you might know, in July, Westinghouse actually announced the launch of a front-end engineering and design – a FEED – study under a grant from the United States Trade Development Agency to advance the nuclear energy program, and that FEED study is just a key element to the intergovernmental agreement that was signed by the U.S. and Poland.
So support for this project – we want to accelerate it; it represents a confluence of both unique and remarkable circumstances where U.S. industry and government have come together at a critical juncture in the development of Poland’s nuclear energy program. So it’s an opportunity to give American technology to help meet Poland’s clean-energy needs, and Westinghouse is going to offer its AP1000 nuclear reactor for the project, which, as I mentioned, is a proven technology both in the United States and around the world.
Moderator: Secretary, I understand that your time is very short and that, unfortunately, you have to run to your next event. Do you have any closing remarks you’d like to share with our group?
Secretary Granholm: I’d just like to say thank you all for coming and we look forward to partnering with allies across the world to be able to achieve our mutual goals.
Moderator: Well, again, thank you very much for taking the time to join us here at the Brussels Hub and with these European reporters. Thanks also to the reporters for all your questions. Very shortly we will send broadcast-quality video files of the briefing to all the participating journalists, and we will provide a transcript as soon as it is available. We’d also love to hear your feedback, and you can contact us at any time at TheBrusselsHub@state.gov. Thanks again for your participation and we hope you can join us for another press briefing soon. Thank you very much. This concludes the call.