Mr. Sarim Sheikh
Ladies and Gentlemen
This is a transformational time for energy and the environment around the globe. Technology is changing the way we explore, develop, and generate our energy resources, and rapid developments in the energy sector hold great promise for all of us. This conference reflects the serious nature of global energy concerns and highlights the growing public-private partnerships that are addressing these issues. I would like to thank GE for organizing this conference, and all of you for working on solutions to the energy challenges facing us all today.
America is proud to support Pakistan in its efforts to supply clean, inexpensive energy for all. President Obama and Prime Minister Sharif have made clean energy a bilateral priority. The ambitious plan they announced is being pursued through the U.S.-Pakistan Clean Energy Partnership. Our partnership aims to facilitate private sector investment in clean energy to fuel Pakistan’s economic growth.
As we work with our Pakistani counterparts to develop energy resources, we remain aware that climate change is threatening our way of life.
This is not just a Pakistani problem, or an American problem. We share a global concern on climate change. Pakistan is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, as recent heat waves, floods and landslides demonstrate. America faces many of the same situations.
The historic Paris Agreement on climate change provides global standards for reducing carbon emissions, and is reshaping how we approach energy. This agreement, combined with our bilateral clean energy partnership, provides a new and exciting direction for energy. The future has arrived, and Pakistan will be on the forefront of energy technology.
The question now is how to put the climate agreement’s vision into practice. Events like today’s bring great thinkers, policy makers, and investors together to discuss innovative solutions to the very real energy challenges we face.
It is no longer a question of if climate change will affect us. It already is. The question is how we can make better choices to repair damage to the environment, while providing the best service to the people. Clean energy innovation is a necessary part of solving these issues.
Clean energy technologies are already commercially available from companies like GE. As the cost of such technology continues to fall rapidly, more companies are seeing it as a viable alternative to traditional energy sources. These technologies, including wind and solar innovations, have emerged as mainstream and cost-effective tools in the fight to provide clean energy. They create more profitable bottom lines and thousands of well paid jobs. Clean energy technologies are advancing the growth and resiliency of developing countries, and can lift millions out of poverty.
Pakistan is not alone in its drive to provide clean energy for all. In America, we are working hard to address climate change, promote clean energy and energy efficiency, and drive innovation in clean energy technologies. The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that in 2016, solar, natural gas, and wind will together account for 93 percent of total capacity additions to the electricity grid, and solar will exceed additions from any other single energy source – signs of real change.
Here in Pakistan, there has never been a better time to pursue clean energy technology solutions to meet energy security and climate change goals. The falling cost of renewables, as well as technological advances in energy storage and in distributed energy systems – such as solar panels on home roofs – represent a huge opportunity. Pakistan has the potential to bring clean and sustainable energy to the 30% of the population that now lacks access to the grid; and do so at a lower cost than extending the national grid to less densely populated areas of the country.
The choices Pakistan makes today about its energy mix will have a major impact for years to come on economic growth, energy security, and the country’s resiliency to the effects of climate change. There has never been a better time to start on the path to a clean and sustainable energy future.