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Remarks at Pixel Building Clean Tech Event

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Grocon Pixel Building


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.


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