Minister Gylfadottir, Atlantic Council colleagues – thank you very much for inviting me here today.
It is an honor to participate in the U.S.-Iceland Clean Energy Summit and be reunited with colleagues with whom I had the pleasure of working together to during my time in Iceland.
It’s hard to imagine a country better positioned to lead a panel discussion titled “Converging Crises: Energy Security and Climate Change.”
During my time in Iceland, I saw first-hand how Iceland has strengthened its own energy security through diversification of energy sources and suppliers, by not relying on unreliable providers with a history of weaponizing energy, and by embracing renewable energy that now accounts for 85 percent of the country’s energy mix.
The United States and Iceland recognize an undeniable truth – that energy security and combatting climate change go hand-in-hand.
We stand today with our European allies and partners in strengthening Europe’s energy security by replacing Russian fossil fuels with cleaner fuels from reliable suppliers.
This effort requires the development and deployment of innovative technology across Europe that will diversify the sources of energy and expand the types of clean energy infrastructure we need for the future.
These technologies are not just the purview of tomorrow. Energy efficiency improvements available today can support both energy security and the clean energy transition.
Installing smart thermostats and heat pumps, for example, can increase efficiencies and decrease demand, both augmenting energy security and helping us reach our shared climate goals.
In this clean energy transition, we have an opportunity to lay the foundation for a cleaner, more affordable, and more reliable energy future.
The U.S. Department of State has a strong relationship with the government of Iceland in this space – having worked together on wind energy, geothermal, and greening mining operations. And we are committed to furthering this cooperation in the future.
Hello Terzah, and thank you again.
You ask an excellent question: in the face of uncertainty, how can governments reconcile climate-conscious policies while guaranteeing they are able meet their short-, mid-, and long-term energy security?
Well, we start with laying a strong foundation: as governments, we must give as many clear market and regulatory signals as we can on the imperative of developing clean energy solutions.
This will require both building new technology systems across Europe to reduce emissions, especially in hard to abate industrial sectors, and partnering with suppliers including U.S. LNG and gas companies to reduce emissions across the entire supply chain while also promoting energy security.
As we have made clear, we are encouraging American and European companies to sign long-term natural gas contracts to give strong demand signals that will help mitigate the price shocks caused by short-term uncertainty.
As part of this effort, we are prioritizing efforts to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of natural gas infrastructure and associated pipelines.
For example, solutions could include using clean energy to power onsite operations at LNG facilities and reducing methane leakage during production and transmission, as well as building clean and renewable hydrogen-ready infrastructure.
In order to advance security of energy supply, it is important to invest in targeted infrastructure that is less carbon-intensive and permanent. We have seen countries such as Estonia, Finland, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, to name a few, turn to Floating Storage Regassification Units (FSRUs) that largely complement existing infrastructure in the region to cover their domestic needs and that of their neighbors.
While securing alternative routes and suppliers of natural gas to Europe is imperative in the short- and medium-term, we cannot lose sight of our ultimate goal: net zero carbon emissions. We must pursue this goal simultaneously with and with equal drive as our efforts focused on near-term energy security.
Advancing energy efficiency and demand reduction is an immediate-term priority in which we can cooperate to accelerate decarbonization. We can work together to promote deployment of technologies like heat pumps, smart thermostats, and efficient grid technologies.
The clean energy transition will also require new supply chains. We are aiming for these supply chains to be resilient, secure, and diversified so that we are not in the position again where one bad actor can disrupt supplies to a region.
We can also accelerate the deployment of improved battery storage, offshore wind, safe and secure nuclear energy, and clean hydrogen. Together, these technologies can help shift our energy supply away from imported fossil fuels, towards cleaner, domestic forms of energy.
We are pleased to see the private and public sectors working together to study and develop clean hydrogen solutions now so we set the path to achieve our decarbonization ambitions in the long run.
We will continue meeting with our partners in both sectors to accelerate deployment at scale of these technologies and beyond.
This gets back to my main point – that taking simultaneous action on both energy security and climate change can and must happen.
There is also much that we can learn from Iceland about its use of geothermal energy, which has been used for over a hundred years.
Many U.S. companies are expanding their use of this safe and reliable technology, and there are tremendous opportunities for partnerships in the future between our public and private sectors.
I could talk all day about the way America and my Bureau as part of those broader initiatives are interminably working to hit these crises from all sides, but I would be interested at this time to hear from my Icelandic counterpart: do you think we are on the right track? What can we do more – bilaterally, regionally, and globally – from the perspective of a world-leader in renewable energy technology?