Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans, Environment and Science Reno Harnish speaks about the growth of renewable energy.
We went to Sharm el-Sheikh at the explicit instructions of Secretary Clinton. She wanted us to join the International Renewable Energy Agency. This is at the heart, really, of President Obama’s policy for clean energy, clean tech, clean jobs. And he has devoted himself to this. As you remember, $61 billion worth of programs, grants and guarantees were in the stimulus package. And he’s pledged 150 billion in revenues over the next ten years to speed the growth of renewable energy. So the Secretary was looking at the President and saying, this is it, this is what the President wants.
Secondly, renewable energy is going to be key to climate change. It’s not the only answer. We’ve got to look at low carbon growth in many other sectors. But renewable energy is no carbon. And the extent we can bring it on faster, the better impact we’ll have on getting to a future that is a good one.
Let me say one last thing. This is also not just about climate change, but it’s also about energy security for developing countries. The developing countries are enormously important, and they don’t have the grids that we have in Europe or the United States. And renewable energy can help them as well.
I want to say also, by the way, going back on what I just said, that when we were there at Sharm el-Sheikh, we made the big pitch to have the center of this, the site, the headquarters of IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency, in the developing countries. And we were very happy that the group decided to have it – the 136 nations decided to have it in the United Arab Emirates. This can’t just be about Europe or North America. Renewable energies are going to speak to the developing world and their needs. And so this – it’s perfectly appropriate that the site ended up in United Arab Emirates.
You asked about where we’re going with this. Well, that’s the answer. We want the International Renewable Energy Agency to be bringing technical assistance to the developing countries so that they can more easily receive renewable energy. We want to look at laws – are they encouraging direct investment. We want to look at barriers – are there so many encouragements for some of the traditional fuels like coal, that they’re blocking out the emergence of renewable energy.
That’s where we want the International Renewable Energy Agency to go. And we think it can be an important force in spreading renewable energy around the world.
Before us is the hard work of making a broad agreement on climate change. In the meantime, we’re forging ahead with the International Renewable Energy Agency, which helps us to get at the problem of reducing greenhouse gases.
And we’re doing other things. Our team here at the State Department has a program, a series of programs to bring clean technology to the developing countries. We’re really focused on China and India, for example, because China has recently surpassed us as a greenhouse gas emitter. So the answer is that the big agreement is still out in front of us. But in the meantime, we’re not just sitting still. We’re doing things like entering into the work of the International Renewable Energy Agency, and doing direct development programs for clean technology.