Panel Discussion “What’s Next After Paris Agreement”, Jakarta

Blank Template - Remarks by Ambassador Blake

Remarks by Ambassador Blake for Panel Discussion “What’s Next After Paris Agreement”, Jakarta

Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar and other distinguished guests

I appreciate the opportunity to share our perspective on the Paris Agreement and what comes next.

Assessing the Paris Agreement

The U.S. enthusiastically welcomed the Paris Agreement, which was a very high priority for President Obama and Secretary Kerry, and we join with all of you in congratulating all the negotiators and leaders who worked so hard to bring nearly 200 nations together.

The Paris Agreement marks a significant step forward in combating climate change.  We understand it is not perfect.  Even meeting all of the targets set in Paris will take us only part of the way to our goals in reducing carbon emissions to levels needed to avoid dangerous climate change.

But, significantly, the Paris agreement establishes the enduring framework that we need to reach that solution to the climate crisis.  It creates the mechanism, the architecture, for us to continually tackle this problem in an effective way.

This agreement is ambitious, with every nation setting and committing to its own specific targets, even as we take into account differences among nations.  It sets out a strong system of transparency, including periodic reviews and independent assessments, to help hold every country accountable for meeting its commitments.  As technology advances, this agreement allows progress to pave the way for even more ambitious targets over time.  And it creates a commitment to support the most vulnerable countries as they pursue cleaner economic growth.

As President Obama summarized, this agreement sends a powerful signal that the world is firmly committed to a low-carbon future, which has the potential to unleash investment and innovation in clean energy at a scale we have never seen before.  I agree with President Obama’s assessment that this agreement “can be a turning point for the world.”

What’s Next

This discussion is quite right to raise the question of “What’s Next” after the Paris Agreement.

One of the key characteristics of this agreement, which makes it such a powerful tool, is that it includes in the agreement itself the path forward to answer the question of “What’s Next.”  This is the “ratchet” mechanism on the contributions that each country makes to this effort.

Although we know the pledges made so far are not yet sufficient to get us where we need to be on carbon emissions reductions, we have all committed to a periodic update of these commitments – the Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs, I want to congratulate Indonesia on their ambitious planned contribution.

And this ratchet principle means that each time we review our commitments, we have agreed to be at least as ambitious, but hopefully more so, than the past.  This way, our agreement has locked in, and will continue to lock in, the progress that we make.  This means that the Paris Agreement is already designed to keep pace with technology and to get stronger as time goes by.

So, we already have a roadmap for what is next, for governments and policy-makers.  This agreement points us toward a series of evaluations and commitments to continually ratchet down our carbon emissions.

But, in addition to the steps the agreement sets out for governments, there is a broader direction set by the Paris Agreement for the private sector and society at large.  The fact that so many countries came together and committed to this path forward sends an unmistakable message to the whole world: government, private sector, and civil society.

That message is that the time is now to undertake a permanent transition to a new and low-carbon energy future for the world.  There is a clear signal that this is the direction that all of us are moving.

This clarity helps leaders make choices at all levels – prime ministers, governors, mayors; energy corporations and investors; by innovators and entrepreneurs;  consumers and civil society.  It is clarity that supports choices to reduce carbon emissions, to move toward cleaner, renewable sources of energy, to invest in the technologies and the innovations and the policy choices that will fulfill the Paris commitments.

In Indonesia, this means continued momentum to reach President Jokowi’s target of 25% renewable energy sources for new electricity generation.  It shows that the rest of the world supports Indonesia in its commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 29% by 2030, or more with international assistance.

It means that businesses and consumers can have confidence that their decisions to adopt more sustainable practices and strategies will pay off, especially in key sectors with strong influence on carbon emissions like energy, palm and timber plantations, and transportation.

US Assistance to Indonesia’s Climate Goals

Looking to what’s next, then, we all have a role to play.  The United States, for its part, has prioritized our partnership to help Indonesia in taking steps to both combat climate change and increase Indonesia’s resilience to climate change.

For example, our Millennium Challenge Corporation’s $332.5 million Green Prosperity Project is designed to increase productivity and reduce reliance on fossil fuels by expanding renewable energy, and to reduce land-based greenhouse gas emissions by improving land use practices and management of natural resources.

Just last month, for example, MCA-Indonesia signed two grants to support this work. One was the Berbak Green Prosperity Project.  This $17 million project will restore the hydrology of peat swamp forests in Jambi province, which will reduce peat fires.  This is just part of what will be a wider U.S. Government effort to support Indonesia’s Peatland Restoration Agency.

The project will also provide training to increase production of local agriculture and will facilitate smallholder oil palm certifications and community-based palm oil mill effluent renewable energy systems.

A second, $13 million agreement was with three palm oil mills in Riau Province for biogas power plants utilizing Palm Oil Mill Effluent and assisting independent smallholders in each mill’s supply base to become RSPO certified.

This grant alone is expected to produce 3 MW of renewable energy from biogas, equivalent amount of electricity to power 9,000 rural homes; to capture 117,000 tCO2e/year, equivalent to emissions from 785 million kilometers driven per year; and to improve productivity and management practices for 2,000 independent smallholders.

Last month, our USAID program here launched a new portfolio of projects to address climate change and support low emissions development.  This includes $47 million for forest conservation and land use planning, $24 million for land use policy and conservation advocacy, $19 million for climate change adaptation, $19 for clean energy and $5 million for forest research.

And our commitment to helping Indonesia meet the challenge of climate change is shared across the entire U.S. government.  In addition to USAID and MCC, other U.S. Agencies also work with Indonesia, including Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Energy, and a few more.

It is difficult to put a figure on it, but over the past five years, and including these future new projects, the U.S. will have invested approximately one billion U.S. dollars toward improving the management of the Indonesian environment.

Mission Innovation

A key part of a clean energy future will be harnessing the power of innovation.

In Paris, President Obama and President Jokowi joined other world leaders to launch Mission Innovation, a landmark commitment to dramatically accelerate public and private global clean energy innovation. Through the initiative, 20 countries representing 80 percent of global clean energy research and development budgets committed to double their respective R&D investments over five years.

The countries were joined by the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which is a group of 28 influential investors from 10 countries who committed to providing patient, early stage capital that will take innovative technologies from the world’s great laboratories and build them into energy solutions at scale.  These public and private resources will dramatically expand the new technologies that will define a future global power mix that is clean, affordable, and reliable.

Meeting Other Climate Challenges

While we are partnering with Indonesia to address climate change mitigation and resilience in Indonesia, we also are continuing to work together to meet these challenges on the global stage as well.  Building on the success we had working together in Paris, we also hope that Indonesia will work with us and other countries as we seek to adopt this year an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down the manufacture and use of hydrofluorocarbons, a potent greenhouse gas.

Coming out of the successful Paris conference, the momentum is with us. The world is clearly coming to an understanding that not only is curbing climate change essential to our environment and our health; not only is it essential to our security; but addressing climate change is also pushing us to take advantage of one of the single biggest economic opportunities the world has ever seen.

Even as we combat and adapt to climate change, we are developing new business and economic opportunities in new sectors, particularly in clean and renewable energy.  By 2035, energy investment is going to reach close to $50 trillion. Much of that money is going to go towards clean energy development.

So to summarize, the Paris Agreement has created a very strong platform for international collaboration to fight climate change.  We will see the benefits from building a clean energy economy – creating new jobs and saving energy and money.  Because of this agreement, we can be more confident that this planet is going to be in better shape for the next generation.  Ultimately, thanks to all the hard work of many of you in this room, and many others around the world, that is truly “What’s Next” for the world following the Paris Agreement.