Remarks by Consul General Melinda Pavek at the Bengal Chamber’s Environment and Energy Conclave in Kolkata

14th Annual Energy and Environment Conclave orgainzed by Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), Kolkata
Inaugural Session Theme: Journey Towards Net Zero – At the Threshold of COP 26

(As Prepared for Delivery)

Date: August 26, 2021

Namoshkar, Good evening,
Distinguished panelists, ladies and gentlemen.

It is my pleasure to join this event today, thank you for inviting me. I arrived in Kolkata two weeks ago and I already feel at home in this beautiful city. The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, I have learnt, has a long history of being the voice of local businesses in shaping economic policies that foster trade and business leading to economic development of this region. Your focus on encouraging businesses to adopt environmentally sustainable technologies and efforts to influence government to create policies that lead to a cleaner, greener world, is truly commendable.

The United States is placing climate change at the center of U.S. foreign policy, diplomacy, and national security. As you are aware, we are already edging closer to a 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer world, and the prospects for averting the worst impacts of climate change become dimmer every day that emissions rise. We cannot delay ambitious climate action any longer.

Therefore, on his very first day in office as the President of the United States, President Biden fulfilled his commitment to re-join the Paris Agreement. To meet the global climate challenge head on, the President has committed to reducing U.S. emissions by 50 to 52 percent by 2030. It is a whole of government effort with new policies and initiatives being announced regularly. In a recent announcement, on August 16, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced new fossil fuel energy guidance for multilateral development banks (MDBs), which aims to “promote ending international financing of carbon-intensive fossil fuel-based energy while simultaneously advancing sustainable development and a green recovery.”

Placing climate cooperation front-and-center in our bilateral relationship, President Biden and Prime Minister Modi agreed to launch The U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership. This Partnership will elevate ambitious climate action as a core theme of U.S.-India collaboration and support the achievement of India’s ambitious targets, including reaching 450 Gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030.

The Partnership will increase financing and accelerate the deployment of clean energy and will proceed along two main tracks: the Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue and the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership. Working together, the United States and India will develop innovative clean technologies needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in industry, transportation, power, and construction today and into the future. We will also increase capacity to measure, manage, and adapt to the climate crisis-related impacts we are already seeing today.

In this context, I would like to highlight a bilateral initiative already ongoing under the leadership of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to deploy clean energy in our region. The U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy- Deployment 2.0 Renewable Energy, known as the acronym PACE-D 2.0 RE, partnered with Assam and Jharkhand to develop a state-of-the-art Renewable Energy Procurement Optimization & Smart Estimation software tool. This software helps electricity distribution companies forecast demand, establish resource plans, and optimize future procurement costs. Assam and Jharkhand are already using the tool and have shown they will reach their 30 percent renewable energy target by 2030 while reducing costs by approximately five percent. Environmentally smart and financially smart solutions are a double win.

Aiming to put the world on a sustainable climate pathway, the United States has launched the Global Partnership for Climate Smart Infrastructure. To work with our partners on this initiative, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has launched the Climate Technologies Exports Initiative. It is a public-private partnership to support the development of market-opening standards overseas and the export of clean energy and climate-smart technologies and services. India is among five priority countries where this initiative will focus on connecting U.S. industry partners with key Indian stakeholders at the sub-national level, on training, workshops, feasibility studies, pilot projects, and technical assistance. The initiative will support projects and activities in transportation, including civil aviation, energy, and smart cities.

We are eager to collaborate on a path to decarbonize emissions-intensive sectors that cross borders, such as aviation and shipping. The United States is committed to working with countries in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to adopt a goal of achieving zero emissions from international shipping by 2050. We are also committed to working with other countries on a vision toward reducing aviation sector emissions in a manner consistent with the goal of net-zero emissions for our economy by 2050, as well as on robust standards that integrate climate protection and safety.

One great example of the type of climate solution collaboration we want to support is already being pursued in Kerala by some innovative private sector companies. Cochin-based green solutions provider Team Sustain, New York-based boat maker Elco Motor Yachts, and California-based solar power company SunPower have joined forces to successfully design and pilot a 24-seater solar hybrid electric boat. This technology can be used to convert hundreds of boats owned by the government of Kerala into an electric fleet. And that is just the beginning. Sixteen percent of fossil fuels in India are used by the fishing industry. Imagine how deploying this technology will help India achieve its climate goals. I look forward to hearing your ideas about how to bring climate friendly transport technologies to this region.

Transportation technology breakthroughs are key to conquering the climate crisis. I welcome the government of West Bengal’s efforts to decarbonize the public transport system and the announcement of the state’s Electric Vehicles Policy. Positioning West Bengal as a sustainable transportation infrastructure hub is a smart way for government to play its role in encouraging the private sector to innovate. We are also following with interest the state’s efforts to develop the inland waterways system as an environmentally friendly, cost-effective mode of transport that will divert traffic away from congested city roads and help improve air quality for all residents. The United States is a global leader in technology, innovation, and the development of solutions that can sustainably and efficiently support the state’s climate ambitions. Our Foreign Commercial Service team at the Consulate stands ready to forge collaborations between U.S. companies and local government and private sector partners to ensure the success of these initiatives.

I am glad that two American companies – Climate Resilience Consulting, a Chicago-based company with expertise on climate resilience and Power Engineers, a Boise-based engineering and environmental consulting firm – are participating in the technical sessions later in the day. These kinds of exchanges of ideas will not only create success for our nations, but will also help to save the planet and its human inhabitants from a world that could become increasingly hostile to our survival.

We need to act together with urgency and do everything it takes to protect our planet and our future in this decade and beyond. While governments provide the enabling policy framework, the private sector needs to step up to embrace climate friendly business practices at all levels of operation and production. I have no doubt that you, the members of this historic chamber and participants of this event, are the leaders, problem-solvers and decision-makers who will envision and create the new technologies, processes, projects, and collaborations, to help achieve our climate ambitions. I urge you to take on this challenge wholeheartedly, because the future of our children and grandchildren depend on us. Thank you.