Remarks at Pixel Building Clean Tech Event
Secretary of State
MR. GROLLO: Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, esteemed guests, ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you all to Grocon's carbon neutral Pixel Building, and thank you very much for your attendance. My name is Daniel Grollo, and I am the CEO of Grocon.
Grocon is the development and construction company that has created Pixel, the building we stand in today. As we are all aware, the issue of global warming is one of international importance. And ways in which we can reduce our carbon footprint and environmental footprint, as a human race, are under constant investigation with growing momentum. Pixel is a building of which we are very proud at Grocon. It is officially the greenest building in Australia, having received the highest-ever rating from the National Green Building Council, and is the only carbon neutral building of its type in the world.
Further, the building is water-balanced. That is, it requires connection to water only for back-up purposes. That is because it is so efficient with every drop of rainfall being harvested right here on the roof, and being then used three times within the building.
Pixel is also currently being rated by the U.S. LEED and UK BREEAM systems. And with the scores that we are targeting under those systems, we believe Pixel will be confirmed as being at the forefront of sustainable development worldwide. Pixel contains all the latest green technology, like the vertical access wind turbines on the roof, the fixed and tracking solar panels for power, daylight glare control through the colorful sunshades, and the green roof upstairs.
Pixel will produce more energy than it uses, and over time will pay back all of the carbon used during its construction. In creating this pilot project, we have sought to identify best of type technology from around the world in an innovative and sustainable way. We believe Pixel's greatest opportunity lies in being able to share the solutions illustrated here to help solve a global problem.
Pixel shows that solutions are available today. All that is needed is to the will to make it happen. I believe the announcements of the U.S. and Australian Governments today will demonstrate that both countries do have the will and leadership required.
And on that note, it gives me great pleasure to introduce the Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard. (Applause.)
PRIME MINISTER GILLARD: Thank you very much to Daniel Grollo for that introduction and for having us here today. And it's obviously a great pleasure for me to be here with Secretary of State Clinton and with our ambassadors, both the U.S. Ambassador to Australia, Ambassador Bleich, and of course our very old friend and our ambassador to the United States, Kim Beazley.
And we are here today to talk about how we jointly are working on and facing up to the challenge of tackling climate change. And, as Daniel has explained, there could be no better place to have this discussion than in this remarkable building, where the wind turbines up on the roof that we have just seen were invented here, in Victoria. In fact, they are from Bendigo. And the living roof features local grass species. And the information technology that runs throughout this building manages all of the systems, the carpet, the photovoltaic roof arrangement, which was manufactured in the United States. So this building, in and of itself, is a partnership of Australian products and American products.
Of course, as a government, we are strongly committed to investing in renewable energy. And that is why we have set the renewable energy target of 20 percent by 2020. And the very setting of that target is expected to drive $19 billion in investment. And we have further allocated $5.1 billion to our clean energy initiative, to drive further innovation.
We are also committed to deliver to the Australian people a number of new energy initiatives, including implementing standards for new coal fired power stations, and extending the energy efficiency opportunities program to electricity generators. We are going to set mandatory CO2 standards for light vehicles, and we are going to implement tax breaks for green buildings. We are, of course, going to continue to pursue our efforts to put a price on carbon in our economy.
Australia and the United States have a long and productive history of working in partnership in areas that will shape the future, including on clean energy. Recently, we have enhanced our collaboration in the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute. And I want to acknowledge that we announced that new initiative when Ambassador Bleich and I had the opportunity to travel to Gorgon on Barrow Island in the far northwest of our country.
We have earmarked a number of Fulbright scholarships for specific research in the field of climate and clean energy research. And I would acknowledge our friends that have joined us from Fulbright today. And we have created a new joint committee on science and technology to identify new areas for collaborative research on clean energy, energy efficiency, and climate research.
Today I am very pleased, with Secretary of State Clinton, to be able to announce a further step, a major new initiative that builds on these joint efforts between our two nations. Australia and the United States have agreed -- a new solar research collaboration initiative.
Now, I think we all know that solar power has significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide the clean energy we need for the future. One of the greatest barriers to a broader commercial take-up of solar power is its cost. And that is specifically what this joint research initiative will address. The price of solar technology has come down in recent years, but we need to accelerate that trend. The joint project, with the United States, is part of an aggressive effort to bring the sales price of solar technology down by two to four times, down to the point where the price of electricity from solar is comparable to electricity generated from conventional sources.
Now, this is an ambitious goal. But anyone who has stood under the Australian sun -- even here in Melbourne, where sometimes we see it and sometimes we don't -- knows how much we stand to gain if we can do this. So the Australian Government will commit new funding of up to $50 million for this initiative, to be managed by the Australian Solar Institute. This builds on the work of the Australian Solar Institute, which is already driving collaboration, focused research, and development that will have a major impact on the efficiency and cost effectiveness of solar technologies. That will support research and development collaboration with the United States, including through a number of foundation projects.
We will be concentrating on solar power technologies. The research is expected to look at advance solar technologies, such as dual junction, photovoltaic devices, hot carrier solar cells, and high-temperature receivers, all likely to be part of our future.
The United States also has a very strong solar energy research program, and this new initiative will build on existing expertise from both of our countries. These joint efforts will ensure that we lead the way in development and supply of the most competitive solar technologies and the most reasonable price.
In conclusion, can I take this opportunity to thank the U.S. Government and Secretary Clinton for their continued commitment to investment in technology that is essential to a clean energy future? Thank you very much. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon. We just had a wonderful lunch, and I think, speaking for myself, I am still back relishing the break in the schedule and having fun in Melbourne.
Let me start by thanking the prime minister for her leadership on this really important issue. It's obviously important for Australia, but it's important as a global commitment. And we look forward to working with her on this and so many other matters. Daniel Grollo, thank you for having us at this amazing example of what can be done when contractors, developers, construction companies, owners get together and decide to make the investment that will pay off in clean energy -- in this case, zero carbon buildings.
I also want to acknowledge Linda Wilson, the acting executive director of the Australian Fulbright Commission, Nick Otter, the CEO of Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, and Wayne Kent, district general manager of Honeywell.
I have had an extraordinary trip through Asia and -- over the last two weeks. I don't think there is a more important event that I have participated in than this one, to speak about our efforts on climate change and clean technology at a building that represents the future. This building, thanks to Grocon's commitment, brought together your country's most creative minds to create a building with ingenious energy-saving features. It puts energy back into the power grid from its wind turbines and its solar panels. It has a living roof, that we just saw, that cuts cooling costs. It uses mainly rain water and filters its own waste water through beds of reeds to reduce the run-off it sends into the sewers.
Now, I am sure that many Australians -- and, frankly, Americans and others -- will be studying the Pixel Building example. Certainly the State Department will want to send our experts to delve into greater specificity with you, because we are committed to building environmentally sustainable embassies all over the world. So this sets an example.
Unfortunately, it is unique. And in the world we are trying to create, we want it to be typical, standard, routine that buildings do what this one does, in terms of efficiency. We really have very little time to make our buildings, which are massive users of inefficient greenhouse gas produced energy, more in line of what we are seeking. We need innovations like the ones we see here to generate renewable energy and manufacture goods without polluting our air and water. And these tools need to be affordable and available in every country.
So, we need to spark a global, clean tech industry. And that will help our economies grow by creating tens of thousands of new jobs, and give us viable alternatives to fossil fuels, and reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy. I think that the United States and Australia, working together, can be pioneers of this movement. And I am excited that we are joining forces, taking our sophisticated research and energy abilities, and putting them together for this purpose.
We each have brilliant scientists working on problems like capturing carbon, increasing food production, developing more efficient technologies. And I think both the people of Australia and America don't want to see more bickering about what should be done to reduce carbon emissions. They want to see action. And the prime minister and I are here today to say we are committed to action.
I know that the Cancun conference is coming up soon to build on what happened at Copenhagen. I am one who believed strongly that we accomplished less than what we should have at Copenhagen, but we did come out with an agreement, and we are committed to working with our partners around the world, particularly the Government of Australia, to ensure that we make progress again at Cancun.
And so, rather than just waiting for global agreements, we have decided, between our two governments, to take steps on our own. First, we are launching, as the prime minister said, a new solar energy research collaboration. We have a common goal of making solar energy competitive with conventional sources by the middle of this decade, 2015. The good news is that the price of photovoltaic modules have dropped about 50 percent in the past 3 years. But to meet our goal we have to drive the price down even more.
I can remember when the first cell phones came out. They weighed as much as a brick, they were very expensive. And look at now where we have advanced to, because we made it a goal that the result would be cell phone technology available universally. We now have 4.6 billion cell phones in the world. Well, under this initiative, our two governments will share both the costs and the benefits of research and development, which will speed up innovation.
Second, we are stepping up our joint efforts to make it commercially viable to capture and store greenhouse gases. I am pleased to announce that the State Department will provide a new $500,000 grant to the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, which is co-funded by the Australian Government. This new funding will help promote carbon capture and storage in developing countries. It will pay for a global survey to identify the most promising technologies for reusing carbon dioxide, for instance, by turning it into materials that can be used for roads or buildings, or into liquid fuel that can power cars or generate electricity. And our support for this institute demonstrates we want to make sure that the best ideas get the funding they deserve.
Third, we are expanding one of the world's best educational programs, the Fulbright Scholarships. We are creating a special focus on climate change. Over the next three years, Australia and the United States will fund up to 15 additional scholars to work specifically on climate change and clean energy. We hope these clean tech Fulbright scholars will do work that advances our understanding of climate change, and leads to new commercially-viable solutions.
Fourth, we are expanding our collaborations on science and technology across all the different agencies of our government. To make sure that our efforts dovetail together, we will convene a science and technology joint commission meeting in Washington in February. We want to make sure that, both in the United States and Australia, we are getting the best return on taxpayers' investments in these new technologies.
Now, I think what you're seeing here this afternoon is a recognition by both of our governments and the people of our two countries that in the 21st century no single country will be able to address these environmental challenges on its own. We need partnerships now more than ever. We need all the talent and the capital we can muster. And I cannot imagine a better partner than Australia in building the kind of green, clean, and prosperous future that we want and deserve.
So, Prime Minister, thank you for leading this effort here in Australia, and for all that you are doing. We look forward to working with you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Now I think we are going to ask a couple of questions.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I have a question for you. Sabra Lane from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
President Obama's comments abandoning the emissions (inaudible) have been seized on by the opposition here, that say that the prime minister should follow that lead and abandon it here. I am interested to hear your thoughts on that. Many commentators believe that that decision will now have impact right around the world, with other countries deciding to ditch emissions (inaudible) as a means of bringing down carbon emissions. Is that your view? And, if so, is it government regulation or a carbon test that would be the best way of reducing emissions?
SECRETARY CLINTON: First, let me start by saying that I think what President Obama said the other day was a statement of the reality that we face politically in the United States Congress. As you may know, the President was successful in passing a cap and trade system through the United States House of Representatives. We were not successful in getting that considered by the Senate. Given the changes of the midterm election, and the fact that, in our system, if you don't have action on pending legislation by the end of the Congress, which ends this coming January, then you have to start over.
And so, the President is still very committed to the United States addressing climate change, making investments in clean energy, and we will be looking at a range of options to take, including, as you point out, the regulatory route, which we have already been doing in concert with the legislative route.
I don't think that President Obama's statement was meant to describe anything other than what is happening inside the United States. Obviously, decisions in Australia are up to the Government of Australia and the people of Australia. But what we are absolutely clear-eyed about is our commitment to addressing climate change and its effects. So we are going to keep moving forward, and we are going to come up with approaches that we think will work, some of them regulatory, some of them supporting the kind of clean building initiative that we see here, some of them through legislation.
MODERATOR: I think we are taking a question from our American friends. Yes?
QUESTION: I quick question for both of you. I know that trade is on the agenda. You have been talking about it. I wanted to ask about that in light of the recent terror scare caused by the packages (inaudible). Do you think there should be tighter restrictions on international shipping by air or by sea? And if so, how do you mange that and not (inaudible)?
PRIME MINISTER GILLARD: Well, I am happy to answer that for Australia's behalf. What we would say is that we are very committed to free trade. We have an open trading economy. We are very committed to seeing the world continue to make progress on trade liberalization. And at the forthcoming G20, the future and level of ambition of the Doha Round will obviously be under discussion.
With the scare from Yemen, I believe the solution is not in turning our backs on trade. We have got to have free and open trade. We also need to have the adequate screening and security that makes sure that that trade is safe. For Australia, we immediately moved to a new screening regime. We don't have direct cargo shipments from Yemen, so we were screening one hundred percent of the cargo coming through ports like Dubai for the immediate days that followed. We have now instituted the kind of protocols that are being followed around the world for screening arrangements.
So, yes, it has changed levels of security. But that's the appropriate response. Turning our back on free trade is not the appropriate response.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I agree completely.
QUESTION: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.