US AND ICELANDIC GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS, BUSINESS LEADERS STRENGTHEN INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION TO ACHIEVE CLIMATE GOALS
The Atlantic Council, Embassy of Iceland, and Green by Iceland convened key players in the energy transition and green energy solutions at the US-Iceland Clean Energy Summit
WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Last week, The Atlantic Council, the Embassy of Iceland and Green by Iceland hosted the U.S.-Iceland Clean Energy Summit, Our Climate Future. The Summit convened Icelandic and U.S. government leaders, businesses, and civil society groups to discuss opportunities to strengthen international cooperation to achieve ambitious climate goals. Prime Minister of Iceland Katrín Jakobsdóttir; Iceland’s Foreign Minister Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir; U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree; Iceland’s Ambassador to the U.S. Bergdis Ellertsdóttir; and officials from the U.S. Departments of Defense, Energy, and State; joined top executives from companies including Microsoft, BlackRock, Carbfix, Carbon Recycling International, Landsvirkjun, HS Orka, ON Power, and Running Tide to discuss opportunities and challenges to accelerate public and private partnerships to advance the energy transition and achieve urgent climate goals.
“Politicians and big corporations carry the biggest accountability,” said Jakobsdóttir. “We can do a lot as individuals – I can take my bicycle and go to work and all that. And that’s very important to make those decisions as an individual. But it’s us politicians who need to create a society where it is easy to make those decisions. Where it is actually easier to make climate-friendly decisions than climate-hostile decisions. For the big corporations, who are the biggest emitters, we have to hold them accountable.”
The summit aimed to highlight recent advancements in clean energy, including geothermal and carbon capture utilization and storage, and to draw attention to technological solutions to accelerate the energy transition and seek ways to enhance cooperation and sharing of knowledge between Iceland and the United States. The need for greater ambition in decarbonizing the energy system while ensuring energy security stood out as another major theme throughout the day.
“The United States and Iceland recognize an undeniable truth—that energy security and combating climate change go hand-in-hand,” said Harry Kamian, principal deputy assistant secretary, Bureau of Energy Resources, U.S. Department of State.
“We are living in times where the lack of energy is an immediate threat to large populations, even in very rich and very prosperous societies,” said Gylfadottir. “Without energy, civilization as we know it will not survive. Meanwhile, with the risks posed by climate change, we also know that unless we fundamentally reform our energy production and consumption, we will not find ourselves on a sustainable path. I strongly believe that strengthening energy security and addressing climate change do not have to be regarded as mutually exclusive. With the right policies and investments, a win-win situation can emerge.”
“I see fantastic opportunities for the U.S. and Iceland to work together over the next year on energy security,” said Michael McEleney, senior advisor, Arctic Energy Office, U.S. Department of Energy. “Going ahead, Iceland’s technological advances, such as electric aviation, are very important to the North American Arctic.”
Congresswoman Pingree discussed her recent bipartisan visit to Iceland with bipartisan delegation which focused on energy and security in the Arctic.
“To see the impact of the transition that Iceland has made from a carbon-based economy into a geothermal economy is something that all of us had to see firsthand,” said Pingree. “Sometimes you’re in these debates, you’re on cable TV and it all gets so contentious, but in reality, we all know we have to make these changes.”
Given Iceland’s achievement in being the world’s largest green energy producer per capita and a leader in harnessing renewable energy for more than a century, much of the dialogue centered on lessons learned with the potential to help other nations do the same.
“The history of geothermal in Iceland started around a hundred years ago, when individual farmers decided to use the energy next to the farm to heat their houses. Interestingly, they heard about this potential from Icelanders who had moved to the U.S., so there’s already a link between Iceland and the U.S. on geothermal,” said Berglind Ran Ólafsdóttir, the CEO of ON Power, the largest geothermal energy provider in Iceland. “It didn’t make financial sense then, but it took courageous people making a decision and we thank them for that today…it is important to keep in mind that it is a decision, we can decide how we react and not just hope for it.”
“As Iceland has shown, no one needs to be scared of this transition,” said David Livingston, senior advisor to Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. The energy market this century is the largest in world history. Four to five billion users today going to eight to nine billion in the coming decades. This is the largest market and financial opportunity since the Industrial Revolution. Just this month, Secretary Kerry traveled to Greece, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Scotland, Nigeria, and Senegal. Across all of these countries, the message was the same—there is a will but all of us just need to find the way. All of these countries want to invest in one way, shape, or form in today’s climate solutions.”
“A successful energy transition relies on international cooperation,” said Reed Blakemore, acting director of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center. “The Atlantic Council is delighted to count Iceland as a bold, committed partner in shaping a sustainable future.”
To learn more about Green by Iceland, click here. To watch a recording of the US-Iceland Clean Energy Summit, click here. Visit our Digital Press Kit for photos and additional information.
The Atlantic Council
Driven by our mission of “shaping the global future together,” the Atlantic Council is a nonpartisan organization that galvanizes U.S. leadership and engagement in the world, in partnership with allies and partners, to shape solutions to global challenges.
U.S. Embassy of Iceland
The Embassy of Iceland in Washington, D.C., represents Iceland vis-a-vis the United States. The Embassy’s mission is to promote political, economic, and cultural relations between Iceland and the United States.
Green by Iceland
Green by Iceland is a platform for cooperation on climate issues and green solutions that promotes the export of Icelandic green solutions and renewable energy expertise while supporting Iceland’s reputation as a leader in sustainability. It is housed within Business Iceland, a public-private partnership established to improve the competitiveness of Icelandic companies in foreign markets and to stimulate economic growth through increased export.
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SOURCE Green by Iceland
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