Posts Tagged ‘Copenhagen’

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U.S. Firms Shining Bright (Green) in Copenhagen

December 14, 2009

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Frank Carrico is the Regional Senior Commercial Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. He has also served the U.S. Commercial Service in Iraq, Brazil, Ukraine, Japan, and Germany.

Following Secretary Gary Locke’s whirlwind schedule on December 11th – featuring a breakfast for Bright Green companies hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Denmark; a bilat with Sweden’s Trade Minister Ewa Björling to discuss the EU Presidency and cleantech cooperation; and a long evening with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development – the “Bright Green” program began very early Saturday morning long before the trade show doors opened.  The Commercial Service’s (CS) Bright Green team helped the Secretary meet U.S. exhibitors, give remarks at a morning reception hosted by GE, visit with CS staff at the “Commerce/FedEx Meeting Place”, and formally open Bright Green with remarks focused squarely on the value of U.S. technology for mitigating climate change and for increasing jobs in the cleantech sector.

After the morning departure of the Secretary and his team, CS personnel turned full attention to the business of helping U.S. firms make the most of their time in Copenhagen, spending two hectic days coordinating matchmaking for our 40 U.S participants and partner companies with visiting Governors, foreign companies, officials, and royalty.  CS staff based in Copenhagen and colleagues from Stockholm, San Francisco, Lisbon, Oslo, the Hague, Helsinki, and Washington, DC, worked together to provide dynamic networking for all participants.  A detailed Cleantech Program Guide was widely circulated to COP15 delegates and the press to highlight the many exciting U.S. companies offering cleantech solutions.  The Governor of Washington, Chris Gregoire, was introduced to her State’s companies and updated on a May 2010 Swedish trade mission which will visit her State.  U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, Laurie Fulton, followed with a reception on Saturday evening for U.S. firms participating in Bright Green and their special guests.  Networking continued in full force throughout Sunday on the event floor at Bright Green, featuring special visits by NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco; Director of White House Science and Technology Office, John Holdren; and Energy Secretary Steven Chu.  Throughout the event, FedEx and CS personnel worked with U.S. companies and visitors to explore additional ways these companies could succeed in the European market, especially by participating in a planned April cleantech trade mission.  U.S. Ambassadors Matthew Barzun (Sweden) and Bruce Oreck (Finland) were also able to meet with the U.S. Green Building Council and GE executives to explore expanding cleantech programs for U.S. companies active in the European Union.

Finally, it was Sunday evening – at last the Bright Green team relaxed for a late meal together.  The mood was positive and the conversation still focused on how to help the companies who had participated at Bright Green; we all agreed to correspond at length on contacts and results.  Our hope is that many of these firms had concrete results, and we certainly intend to stay in touch and follow up.

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Green Building Takes Root in Copenhagen

December 14, 2009

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Keith Curtis is a senior Foreign Service Officer currently based in the U.S. Commercial Service’s Office of International Operations. He is the Commercial Service’s senior advisor on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The atmosphere in Copenhagen is charged with activity.  Nobody is saving on personal energy – and everyone seems to be filled with a passion to make their point and make things happen.  At the U.S. Presence Center at Bright Green, the International Trade Administration (ITA) was making its point bright and early at the 9:00 Green Building Seminar and the 10:15 Bright Green, “Solutions at Your Doorstep” panel discussion.  Bringing the momentum of the Green Build Road Show to Copenhagen, we laid out for the delegates, NGOs, and students the wide and deep variety of everything going on in the States on Green Buildings.  The audience seemed to especially like the story of the Greening of the Empire State Building as told first hand by Clay Nesler, VP of  Johnson Controls (did you know Johnson Controls produced the first commercial thermostat?).  He described how the tens of thousands of windows would be replaced and lighting and installation changed office by office in the ¼ mile high icon of the American Industrial Age so that when done, they would be using 37% less electricity.  Roger Platt, VP of the US Green Building Council talked about how Green Building was spreading around the world, and the Department of Energy talked about how it was creating the first net-zero (uses no electricity from the Grid overall) large scale commercial building for their National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in Golden, Colorado.

The Green Building panel was followed by a second discussion organized by ITA to explain the wide range of bio-fuels, energy efficient manufacturing, and renewable energy technologies that the U.S. is delivering to the world. Kirsty Mac Donald of Intel talked about the modernization of the grid and all the intelligent hardware that will go into homes and vehicles.  Did you know that every wind turbine has a half a dozen IT chips in it?  Honeywell told how their bio-fuels are now being tested in regular commercial airlines for trans-Atlantic flights.  The audience was curious and impressed, but the students, who sported T-shirts saying, “How old will you be in 2050?” added a special sense of urgency to the challenges we were all talking about, although the industry presentations pointed them to ways that U.S. technology is already creating real change and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

And we heard our second Cabinet official, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, speak to a full house as we looked forward to hearing our own Secretary Gary Locke speak tomorrow.  There is certainly a lot going on already at the COP15 even before the 100 Heads of State arrive.

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The Road to Copenhagen

August 20, 2009

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Frank Caliva is an International Trade Specialist in the Office of Energy and Environmental Industries. He is also a former Presidential Management Fellow.

The international conversation regarding climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, energy usage, and environmental protection has taken on a heightened sense of priority lately.  These issues are on the front page of our daily newspapers, the topics du jour among academics and policymakers, and the increasing focus of global conferences and summits.  Our daily lives are starting to be impacted as well: more alternate-fueled cars on the road, more options for conserving energy and choosing the source of our electricity from our utility companies, and more ways for individuals to reduce our carbon footprints.

Making Progress

Some significant steps have also been taken by our national leaders.  Legislation has been introduced in Congress to put a cap on carbon emissions, increase funding for renewable energy, and encourage more efficient practices by U.S. companies to reduce waste.  Businesses are now more commonly implementing “green” strategies to lessen their impact on the environment.  We are taking steps in the right direction, but real change will require a coordinated effort on a global level.  To achieve this, we at ITA have been working with other federal agencies as participants in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations. These discussions are focused on writing a new international agreement on climate change.

In 2007, countries decided to shape an ambitious and effective international response to climate change, to be formally agreed to in Copenhagen in December 2009.  In the time since then, representatives from across the U.S. government have been talking with their foreign counterparts in preliminary meetings to lay the groundwork for the treaty.  Only a few months away, all eyes are now looking ahead to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December.

Providing Input

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is at the top of the conference agenda, but these negotiations will also touch on numerous other issues with significant implications for the U.S. business community—like intellectual property rights, research and development, technology sales, carbon financing, and energy efficiency.  As an analyst at ITA, it is my job to ensure U.S. industries’ voices are heard during these critical negotiations, so that a solution is found that is not only effective but also recognizes the critical importance of innovation and entrepreneurship to a successful response to climate change.

To accomplish this goal, we have scheduled meetings across the United States leading up to the Copenhagen conference, where industry leaders will have the opportunity to meet with government representatives—from ITA and other federal agencies—to learn how this new proposed agreement could impact their businesses.  These meetings will also help us prepare for the upcoming negotiations, by letting us hear the thoughts and concerns of the business community. The first of these meetings took place in Washington, DC at the Department of Commerce on July 16.

I hope to hear from many of you and would encourage your participation in upcoming events planned in Milwaukee on August 25, San Francisco on September 10, Pittsburgh on October 8, and Little Rock, with an additional option for firms nationwide to participate via webinar.

There are only a few months left before the Copenhagen conference.  This is an important opportunity to lay out a plan on climate change which will reduce carbon emissions, enhance energy security, and protect our environment, while promoting development and economic growth.

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