Thursday, 4 December 2014

Remarks at At U.S.-EU Energy Council

John Kerry
Secretary of State
European External Action Service
Brussels, Belgium
December 3, 2014

Well, thank you very much for that, Federica. I’m delighted to be here with the high representative and pleased to be in the company of Vice President Sefcovic and Commissioner Canete and Vice-Minister De Vincenti. I’m glad to be back here in this room where we’ve had a couple of meetings already. Last year we were here and we had a good session.
I am not accompanied today by Secretary Moniz. This is not the secretary of energy. He is the acting assistant secretary of energy, and I don’t know how he got here and Moniz did not. (Laughter.) But Secretary Moniz’s flight was canceled, and so he’s gone promptly to the President and he’s asked to be secretary of transportation instead. (Laughter.) Unfortunately, he couldn’t make it, and I’m sorry for that, because as good as the assistant secretary will be, he really knows his stuff, and frankly, he’s got enormous expertise so he will be missed.
But I’m pleased to be here with all of you, and let me begin by applauding the tremendous leadership of the EU in helping to reach a gas deal with respect to Ukraine. That is a very important deal, and it is very successful with respect to the long-term situation. It’s important. And part of our meeting today is really to talk about providing a sustainable energy plan for Europe – for actually more than Europeans – so that all of us can deal not just with issues like climate change, but the economy and the stability of the economy and the stability of the supply. And obviously, it’s not a good idea to depend anywhere in the world on one source. There are disruption and vast implications.
We support major U.S.-EU energy sector reform. That’s part of what we’re going to talk about here today. We think there can be increased domestic production. There’s much to be done on energy efficiency. There’s also an enormous amount to be done in the transformation to a clean energy economy. In fact, the clean energy economy represents the single largest market in the world. And the market that made America particularly wealthy – and I say that advisedly and measured against the 1920s when we didn’t have income tax and people made a lot of money – we actually saw more people make more money in the 1990s from a $1 trillion market that had one billion users. It was the high tech market. The energy market that we are looking at today globally is a $6 trillion market today with 4 to 5 billion users today, and it will rise to some 9 billion users over the course of the next 30 years. It is the largest – you can call it the mother of all markets if you want. And its future is not in coal unless somebody can figure out how to burn it absolutely cleanly. Its future is going to be in clean energy.
So that’s what we’re here to talk about. We want to, obviously, deal with the question – a more prosaic question of how we deal with Ukraine, how we deal with the energy demands of the moment to get through a certain crisis. We want to talk about long-term energy security, which depends on investment in the future. We clearly want to meet our responsibility with respect to climate change. The United States has tried to exhibit leadership together with China as a beginning, as a first step to lay some markers down to encourage people to make the most out of Lima in the next days, and then to make the most out of Paris next year. Because it is clear from all of the scientific evidence that we are behind where we need to be, and catching up is not easy.
So this is our challenge. Technology and our collaboration within the technology sector could be an enormous kick-start to both of our economies and obviously bring us all long-term stability and significant rewards.
I’d just close by saying that I’ve been in public policy now most of my life, 30 – almost 30 years in the U.S. Senate, and now serving as Secretary, and before the Senate, lieutenant governor of a state. I’ve seen many, many debates over public policy issues, and many of them present you with a tension. There’s an up and there’s a down, and you try to fight your way through that tension. When it comes to energy choices, I have never seen an issue that presents as many upsides and as little downside.
People keep saying, well, it’s going to be too expensive to do this, or this may dislocate the economy. It’s just not true. The fact is that the benefits to health, the benefits to – the benefits to health, the savings of hospitals and hospitalization for particulate-imbued diseases or other enhanced diseases as a result of breathing capacity, the enhancement to the environment, the preservation of long-term environment, the diminishment of carbon dioxide, the diminishment of the damaging effects of acidification on the oceans and the impact that is incalculable on species, on coral reefs, on spawning grounds – I mean, you could run the list – the impact on energy security for nations, the lack of conflict as a consequence, the impact on populations that don’t have to move – all of these things are key.
So when you add it all up, the pluses of what we’re talking about here today are just enormous, and we hope that that becomes more and more self-evident as we go forward. And Federica, thanks for hosting us. We appreciate it.