Remarks by Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Jason P. Rebholz at the 2024 Clean EDGE Asia Conference

(Photo: State Dept. / Budi Sudarmo)

By midcentury, the growing economies of the Indo-Pacific will account for over half of global energy consumption and will collectively be the largest energy importers in the world. These growing energy demands coincide with worldwide efforts to reduce carbon emissions, creating a challenging balancing act between security and sustainability across the region. Southeast Asian countries have a wide range of energy demands and transition pathways, and so offer an especially strong forum for substantive and impactful policy discussions at a pivotal moment.

The 2024 Clean EDGE Asia conference in Jakarta brings together key stakeholders, technical experts, and policymakers from Southeast Asia, the United States, and across the Indo-Pacific to exchange priorities, lessons learned, and challenges with the objective of improving collective understanding, and produce actionable policy recommendations to support and accelerate Southeast Asia’s equitable energy development and transition.

Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Jason P. Rebholz

Remarks as prepared:

Thank you to NBR for hosting today’s event.

Honorable Minister Arifin, it is a privilege to be here with you today.  Thank you as always for the outstanding collaboration between the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and the U.S. Embassy.

The clean energy transition is not only one of the U.S. government’s highest priorities, but also a major element in our partnership with Indonesia.  It is clear from this incredible, diverse group of experts today that this is one of your highest priorities as well.

We are here today to mark the success of three achievements.

FIRST, we are here to celebrate four years of a collaborative program led by the Department of State and the National Bureau of Asia Research called “Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy” —or the EDGE program.

The United States government launched EDGE to accelerate Asia’s clean energy transition.  We do this by combining our expertise and resources with those of like-minded governments, the private sector, and international financial institutions.

A cornerstone of EDGE is our Mid-Career Fellows Program, which works to identify and support Southeast Asia’s brightest clean energy leaders.

I’d like to acknowledge our EDGE Fellows joining us here today.  Could you please raise your hands?

Thank you.  It’s wonderful to have you as part of this conference.  You are the ones who will innovate, who will debate and discuss, and who will lead our clean energy transition and enable a better future for Indonesia.

We are so proud of what you have done and cannot wait to see what you will continue to do. All of us at the Embassy look forward to working closely with you as you create a cleaner future for your country.  We look forward to celebrating your success.

The EDGE program is a key piece of our work to support Asian economies’ transition to a carbon neutral future.

Let me be clear: we seek both a carbon neutral future and economic prosperity.  In our view, a zero-carbon future is, in fact, the key to economic prosperity and sustainability.

The future is innovative technologies, clean and safe jobs, and blue skies.  The future is preserved forests, coral reefs, and biodiversity.  The future is clean air and drinking water.

Let us also be clear: we seek a clean energy future and energy security.  We do not think those concepts are mutually exclusive.  To the contrary, a clean energy future is the key to energy security.  Clean energy means we are using superior technology and efficiency to ensure reliable electricity access for all and assisting Indonesia as it strives for industrial advancement using renewable energy.

I mentioned we have three successes to celebrate today.  The second is the constructive partnership between Indonesia and the United States in the energy transition.

As we meet here, we have much to be proud of. 2024 marks the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and Indonesia.  And we are beginning this historic milestone fresh off the heels of a major summit meeting between President Jokowi and President Biden.

In November, President Biden hosted President Jokowi in the Oval Office.  During this meeting they elevated U.S.-Indonesia ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership—the highest level of bilateral relations possible.

During that meeting, President Biden spoke very clearly about our interest in supporting public and private investment in a range of technologies and activities that promote inclusive economic prosperity.

Also last November, we launched an important strategy in our Just Energy Transition Partnership, or JETP.  This strategy is the Comprehensive Investment and Policy Plan, or the CIPP.

The CIPP is a joint endeavor with the International Partners Group, or the IPG, to enable Indonesia to reach its emission reduction goals in the power sector through catalyzing investments in renewable energy.

To support these ambitious targets, the IPG committed to mobilize $10 billion in public financing. The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, a global coalition of leading financial institutions, committed to mobilizing another $10 billion in private financing.

We have begun deploying this investment.  Last May, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency issued a $1 million grant for a wind farm feasibility study in West Nusa Tenggara.

Additionally, the Asian Development Bank and Indonesia announced plans at COP28 in Dubai to begin the early decommissioning of Cirabon 1 coal-fired power plant through ADB’s Energy Transition Mechanism.

Also last November—we were clearly all quite busy in November!—former Ambassador Kim and Minister Arifin signed an agreement to deepen partnership and technical assistance on mineral development and clean energy.

Under this program we can implement U.S. programs such as the Clean Energy Demand Initiative.  This is a collaborative effort to partner private sector firms seeking clean energy-powered investment with Indonesian counterparts and policymakers. Already 100 firms have signaled interest in more than $100 billion in clean energy infrastructure.

We are already cooperating in so many other ways.  Our Net Zero World Initiative is working with Minister Arifin’s ministry to assist rural communities relying on diesel to transition to cleaner alternatives–ensuring clean, reliable energy access for all.

We also have programs to tap into Indonesia’s tremendous geothermal potential, and to find clean alternatives to the coal which is used for minerals processing.

Through the U.S. Agency for International Development we work with PLN to support its transition towards a clean energy path and meet its net zero emission goal, which is crucial for the implementation of JETP.

There is so much the United States and Indonesia have done, but this is just the beginning.  There is so much more we are doing now and some amazing opportunities facing us in 2024.

I also want to stress that we have a lot of work ahead of us, but we have to do it right.  It takes time to ensure lasting, durable, high-standards investment in Indonesia’s future.

And for the United States, our goal will always remain clear: a clean, prosperous future for Indonesia and the Indonesian people.

And, finally, the THIRD reason we are here today is about you—Indonesia.  We are here to applaud Indonesia’s own clean energy progress and Indonesia’s leadership in Asia’s clean energy future.

In the JETP policy plan, Indonesia set forward ambitious climate targets.  These targets include achieving net zero emissions in the on-grid power sector by 2050.  They include reduce CO2 emissions by 18 percent and reach 44 percent renewables of total energy generation by 2030.

I applaud Indonesia for these ambitions.  None of these goals are easy.  None can be achieved by pursuing business as usual.  They require innovation, risk taking, and collaboration.

Collaboration means ensuring we bring a range of perspectives and expertise to the table to address these complicated problems.  The energy transition requires the private sector, governments, and local communities to be bold and to listen to each other.

And the mention of local communities is important.  Because quite often, local communities are the stakeholders who are not in the room. They are the ones who are working hard in their community today in South Sulawesi, or Sumba, or East Java.  They may not have a representative at conferences like these.  But they are a critical part of this conversation.  And their voices matter.

So this brings me to a value I want to see underpin all of the efforts I have discussed this morning: equity in the energy transition.

Energy equity means that all of Indonesia’s people benefit from the energy transition—whether it’s the supply of energy or the affordability of energy.  I applaud the Indonesian government for achieving remarkable rates of electrification across the country.  Let us ensure that communities across Indonesia not only have electricity access but that it is generated by clean energy that causes no harm to the water they drink and the air they breathe.
Energy equity means that Indonesians enjoy and use the technology of the future—not pay the price for others to do so.

When an electric vehicle is built in Indonesia, it must be powered by clean energy.  When a solar panel is manufactured in Indonesia, it must be powered by clean energy.

Indonesia should not suffer the effects of burning coal to make solar panels or electric vehicles for the rest of the world to enjoy.

Energy equity means local communities have an important role to play in how their resources are used.  They should be key stakeholders consulted for any major energy project.

We have grappled with some of these same issues in the United States.  We pledge to share our own experiences and ensure our partnership with our Indonesian government counterparts are rooted in principles of equity and a “just” transition.  Just is the “j” in JETP.  And there is a reason why it is the first word in the Just Energy Transition Partnership.  It is critical that we keep that value at the heart of our efforts.

Equally important is the “p” – partnership.  We cannot do this work alone.  That is why it’s so exciting to be with you today.  Because we can only thrive when we work together on these issues that cross traditional boundaries that have divided people for so long.  We look forward to working closely together to advance these shared goals.

In closing, let us celebrate the things that bring us together today—the EDGE program and its Fellows, the U.S.-Indonesia partnership, and Indonesia’s clean energy future.

And as we celebrate, let’s also look to the future and the challenges and opportunities that we face ahead of us.  The path will not be easy one, but if we do it right—if we collaborate, share information and ideas, are open to taking risks, and keep equity at the center of our work—we will go far.  And, most importantly, we will do it as partners.  Thank you.

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