☷The 3rd Annual Caspian Business Forum United States Department of State
U.S. Department of State ( By Press Release office)
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Thank you . Good evening . Thank you very much Ambassador Hoagland for that introduction and to Ambassador Cekuta and Dr . Nifti , ministers and guests . It’s just a huge honor for me to be with you here today to discuss energy resources and infrastructure in the Caspian region . And certainly , this discussion on the margins of the UNGA could not be more timely . As Ambassador Hoagland noted , I was sworn in this morning after having been confirmed on Thursday by the Senate , and I’m just a few hours into my new job . So , this is one of the very first events that I’m doing . But Caspian energy issues were central to my work when I was the PDAS in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs and worked closely , I should note , with Ambassador Hoagland . But also more recently , when I was ambassador to Greece , I worked very closely with my Azeri counterpart , as we worked to support the regulatory approval and construction of the TAP pipeline . And indeed , the whole Southern Gas Corridor looks even more important , in retrospect , as European energy security and the clean energy transition have emerged as two of today’s most pressing economic and geopolitical issues . Meanwhile , President Putin’s unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine continues to generate extraordinary costs; in the thousands of civilians killed and wounded , in the 13 million Ukrainian citizens forced to leave their homes , and in rising global food and energy prices , and supply demand imbalances , making it harder for people around the world to meet their basic needs . Much of the discussion at this year’s UNGA will be about how we can work together to address these pressing humanitarian and economic challenges , but as the pressures of the war continue , we also need to make sure that we work together to meet global energy demand , while simultaneously addressing the devastating effects and the costs of climate change and the imperative of the clean energy transition . The Biden Administration has consistently demonstrated its commitment to prioritizing the climate crisis . This includes passing the most significant legislation in US history to tackle climate change and strengthen energy security , as well as working with counterparts to encourage everyone to do more to meet climate goals . These are serious challenges , but they also offer opportunities to strengthen our partnerships and reap the economic benefits of new technologies and new markets . Energy diversification , as a central component of the clean energy transition , supports both economic and energy security goals . Part of managing this transition effectively is ensuring people have access to reliable energy to keep the lights on and businesses operating . What this means in terms of the mix of technologies and fuels will be different for every country . Some countries will require continued and diminishing use of unabated oil and natural gas as zero emission and abatement technologies continue to be commercialized . Caspian natural gas is already playing a critical role in ensuring European energy security . And the more that resources in one region can be shared with another , the more all will benefit . For this reason , the United States believes that expanding natural gas , as well as electricity interconnections , will bring significant benefits to the Caspian region . The United States is engaged in ongoing dialogue with countries that could increase exports to determine the best ways Caspian states can contribute to broader energy security and diversification goals . The Southern Gas Corridor is a powerful example of what can be achieved with political will , coordinated investment , regional cooperation and technological innovation . In this regard , I’ll always remember my 2017 visit to the TAP pipeline , when it was under construction in Northern Greece , and the fantastic combination of capital , technology , and vision that project represented . Since it came online in 2020 , the Southern Gas Corridor has already helped Turkey , Italy , Greece , and now Bulgaria to massively reduce their dependence on a single energy supplier . Its strategic and economic importance will only grow as Europe explores expanding the Southern Gas Corridor’s capacity to further diversify suppliers and routes . This Southern Gas Corridor has literally redrawn the energy map of Southeastern Europe . And at least in Greece , Azeri gas has played an important role in the government’s progress towards reducing reliance on dirty lignite coal power plants , thereby advancing our shared climate goals . Greater regional interconnection also means greater stability for electrical grids , the essential infrastructure of modern homes and economies . To further regional energy security , it will also be important to increase energy efficiency . This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce consumer energy costs , lower emissions and improve competitiveness . It can also help Caspian countries to meet their domestic needs and free up additional resources for export . Energy efficiency in buildings and power plant operations and reducing methane venting , flaring , and leaking are all important . And of course , it’s possible to capture more gas for sale just by reducing the amount that is vented and flared . This benefits both the economy and the environment in line with the goals of the Global Methane Pledge announced last year at COP 26 . Participants in the Pledge agreed to contribute to a collective effort to reduce methane emissions by at least 30% of 2020 levels by 2030 . And I’m delighted that four states in the region are signatories to this pledge . Our shared commitment to combating climate change presents opportunity for innovation as well . Developing and deploying renewable energy and battery storage will help bolster sustainability , resilience , and energy security . It also creates good , well - paying jobs . Many states in the Caspian region have the potential to expand their use of renewable energy , taking advantage of their abundant resources to provide electricity and meet the needs of their populations . I vividly remember making the drive from Almaty to Bishkek , early in my tenure as PDAS , and being struck by how much the landscape looked like our high plains in Colorado . In the decade since I took that trip , Colorado has more than tripled its renewable energy generation , with four fifths of that now coming from wind power . There is no reason why many Caspian states couldn’t do the same in a way that would deliver multiple benefits . The private sector is and will continue to be an important partner in meeting these complimentary goals of energy security and energy transition . Continuing to provide reliable energy within the Caspian region and Europe , while transitioning to cleaner energy sources for the future , will require significant capital , but also presents fantastic new business opportunities . As I begin my role as Assistant Secretary of State for Energy resources , I am eager to find opportunities to increase cooperation in the fields of clean and renewable energy , and methane mitigation . So please keep in touch and be assured the United States will continue to support initiatives across the region to meet climate goals . Finally , I will close by highlighting that the United States takes these relationships seriously and I am eager to again join the team , working to advance our agenda across this fascinating region . We are celebrating 30 years of U . S . relations with the states of the Caspian region , and we want to continue to work together to prioritize regional and international energy goals . Thank you once again for your welcome and I very much look forward to this evening’s discussion .
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