Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General Suresh Kumar
U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service
The Obama Administration's Strategy for Sustainable Development: The Role of the Private Sector
Monday, April 12, 2010
As prepared for delivery
Thank you, Byron, for your warm introduction. I also want to thank Ambassador Rivkin for your support of the interests of the U.S. business community here in France.
Additionally, thank you to Fed Ex for hosting this Green Industries Trade Mission, which is certified by the Department of Commerce. Fed Ex has long been an important partner of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, and our relationship represents the type of public-private partnership we need to leverage to enable more U.S. companies to understand the opportunities available to them in the global marketplace.
It is an honor and privilege to be joined today by several U.S. Ambassadors to Europe, distinguished U.S. and French industry leaders, and officials from the French Government to share some thoughts about President Obama’s focus on green industries and clean energy technologies.
As Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, I manage a team of over 1,500 trade professionals in almost 80 countries, including 109 domestic offices in the United States. We help American companies compete and win in international markets. Like your Ubi-France, we promote U.S. exports and like you French Agency for Investment, we also promote foreign direct investment into the United States.
As you know, the United States of America has long been the world’s biggest economy, but only in the past few years have exports exceeded 10% of our GDP. President Obama has therefore created the National Export Initiative – an unprecedented, comprehensive strategy to double U.S. exports over five years by bringing the full resources of the U.S. government behind American businesses that sell their goods and services abroad. One of the elements of this initiative is the more than 40 trade and reverse trade missions being organized this year alone, many of which are led by high-level U.S. government officials.
This Green Industries Trade Mission is the quintessential example of what the Obama Administration hopes to accomplish through the National Export Initiative – bringing together innovative U.S. companies with prospective buyers in key markets. In particular, I want to recognize the members of the delegation who have come to Paris as part of this trade mission. These 30 companies and organizations represent some of the best of American industry – from design and engineering to electricity management, from renewable energy to state of the art manufacturing, from conservation to energy efficiency – as well as the world’s best hope for a clean and green future.
I would like to ask the trade mission participants to stand up, so they can be recognized for their entrepreneurship.
These private sector innovators are critical to achieving our global climate change goals. America believes that healthy competition and thoughtful incentives for the private sector will mobilize resources and stimulate innovation in very powerful ways to address our most pressing environmental issues. President Obama has stated this very succinctly, and I quote:
“We know that if we put the right rules and incentives in place, we will unleash the creative power of our best scientists and engineers and entrepreneurs to build a better world.”
At the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, President Obama committed the United States to an 83% reduction in greenhouses gas emissions by 2050 and called for the rest of the world to do the same. As of this month, more than 110 countries, including all major emitters, have agreed to the Copenhagen Accord.
However, everyone is this room is well aware that the world is facing a climate crisis that requires not only international cooperation in the public sector, but also robust and collaborative engagement within the global business community. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke has stated, and I quote:
“Ultimately, an international climate agreement must be not just about limiting carbon emissions but must complement and promote sustainable economic development by moving the world toward a low-carbon economy. The effort to build a sustainable, clean energy global economy can drive investment and job creation around the world, while bringing energy services to hundreds of millions of the world’s poor.”
President Obama and Secretary Locke have made it clear that the United States is committed to building a sustainable, clean energy economy that can drive investment and job creation while reducing pollution and greenhouse gases. Without a doubt, the development of the clean energy and energy efficiency technologies that we need to curb this climate crisis can effectively spur an industry that will revolutionize the 21st century economy.
The United States is already a leader in the renewable energy sector, producing more wind, bio-electricity, geothermal, concentrated solar, and waste-to-energy power than any other country in the world. And America not only leads in renewable energy, but also energy efficiency, as we have more green buildings, energy-efficient appliances, and light-weight high-technology lithium-ion batteries than in any other country.
However, the U.S. Government can, and is, doing more to provide an attractive domestic environment for the growth of green industries. Although the U.S. economy already gets 11 percent of its energy – 19 gigawatts – from clean energy sources, America realizes that it must do more to raise fuel economy standards, create clean energy incentives, and make renewable energy profitable, to further reduce our dependence on oil. As such, President Obama and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke have expressed the need for Congress to pass comprehensive energy legislation, which will not only protect our environment, but will also send a clear signal to the private sector that it is safe to invest in clean energy technologies over the long-term.
Nevertheless, the Obama Administration has not waited for Congress to act to create the framework for this clean energy economy. Just this month the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new greenhouse gas emissions standards and fuel economy rules, which will conserve about 1.8 billion barrels of oil and reduce 1 billion tons of greenhouse gases over the lives of the covered vehicles. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy also announced this month the launch of a $150 million U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, which will conduct joint research on building efficiency and clean vehicle technologies.
Additionally, President Obama has repeatedly expressed the paramount importance of federal investment in clean and green technologies. The Obama Administration continues to commit hundreds of billions of dollars in clean energy investments that will double the U.S. capacity to generate renewable energy.
In fact, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act alone, otherwise known as the Recovery Act, included more than $80 billion in funding to make U.S. homes and businesses more energy efficient, transform the transportation sector and enable more fuel efficient vehicles, upgrade our smart grid and renewable energy capacity, initiate a major effort to green U.S. government buildings, and stimulate a national green jobs training program.
Is there an opportunity for Europe here? Yes! America is one of the world’s most open markets for trade and investments.
European investments in America have long been part of the U.S. economy. In 2008, total French direct investment stock in America approximated $163 billion, which ranked France in the top 10 list of foreign investors in the United States.
Additionally, since 2003, French companies have announced over 400 U.S. investment projects valued at over $23 billion. These Greenfield investments created an estimated 47,000 American jobs. To give you some examples from just last year -- Areva announced a $100 million project to expand its operations in the State of Washington, and EDF constructed a $372 million, 1.8 megawatt solar installation, in the State of New Jersey.
The Recovery Act is just the beginning. The President’s leadership in promoting sustainable development has generated great interest among entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, cities, states and associations. This growing awareness of the business potential in the green economy holds great promise for progress in addressing some of our most critical environmental issues.
This level of focus and investment in the clean energy economy is unprecedented in American history. However, for this clean energy revolution to fully take root, we need to facilitate the ability of American companies in these sectors to build relationships with European business partners. With the National Export Initiative, U.S. companies that need the tools and financing to export – especially small and medium-sized businesses – are going to have a strong partner in the U.S. Government.
Let me give you a few brief examples of the many investment opportunities emerging from cooperation between the US Government and the private sector:
- First, the U.S. Department of Commerce is laying the foundation for the national deployment of the smart grid. Expectations are that smart grid related equipment, devices, services and other products will double in the United States between now and 2014 to nearly $43 billion. And worldwide demand for smart grid products and services will grow to $171 billion during the same period.
- Second, the Obama Administration is committed to increasing our renewable energy capacity. Last year, as a result of the Recovery Act, renewable capacity increased by 39% and the U.S. committed funds to more than 383 renewable energy development and manufacturing projects.
- Third, the United States will increase energy efficiency through the Weatherization Assistance Program. America is on track to weatherize about 600,000 homes, bringing the benefits of energy efficiency to families across the country.
- Fourth, to spur innovation, the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded the first round of funding for a program to develop 37 transformative research projects in the energy sector. These projects include grid-scale energy storage and ways to harness bacteria to produce automotive fuel from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide.
- Fifth, the United States is transforming the transportation sector. Under the Recovery Act, there is more than $4 billion dedicated to making our transportation system more efficient, developing plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles, and deploying new, clean fuels.
Therefore, the United States offers incredible investment opportunities for European firms in virtually every aspect of the green economy, from smart grids to renewable energy to energy efficiency to transportation. Please feel free to contact my Senior Commercial Officer, Daniel Harris, and his team in France, or any of my other European SCOs, several of whom have joined us here today, if we can be of any assistance in helping you identify those opportunities.
The Obama Administration recognizes the urgent need to address environmental issues, and this Administration has already done more to mitigate climate change and create positive incentives for clean energy and efficiency than at any other point in U.S. history. The President’s National Export Initiative also demonstrates the U.S. commitment to assist U.S. companies that develop clean technology solutions to make these throughout the world.
When I speak of the critical role of the private sector, I do so from personal experience. Prior to my appointment by President Obama to serve in his Administration, I spent 30 years in the international business community, running business in 6 countries. I have seen firsthand the immense possibility, potential, and prosperity that come from global trade. The current economic and environmental climate make it more compelling than ever before to leverage the innovative developments within these green industries.
The list of participants in the Green Industries Trade Mission here today is a testimony to the enthusiastic private sector response to President Obama’s call to action. American businesses have the technology, the expertise and the experience to help countries around the world reach their climate and energy goals.
Developing a clean technology economy is not just an economic or commercial imperative, it’s a moral obligation. The very future of our planet depends on the success of these companies and their partners across the world.
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