Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
Manila, the Philippines
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you very much, and thank you, everyone. It’s wonderful, first of all, to be here in the Ayala Triangle Gardens, and I hope you had an opportunity, however briefly, to look at some of the work that’s on display over to my left. It really is remarkable, and I’ll come to it again in a minute. But I think what it demonstrates, among other things, is that somewhere in the – thank you – somewhere in the world, we have problems that are shared. Someone is finding a solution, and if we can make sure that that information is shared, spread the knowledge, it’s going to make a big difference everywhere.
And so something happening here in the Philippines – innovation, ingenuity – can make a difference not only here, but literally around the world. It’s incredibly impressive to see the – not only the brilliant ideas, but the actual achievement of those ideas in having an effect and an impact on people here in the Philippines and, I believe, well beyond.
And thank you to all of our esteemed colleagues who are here. Mr. Ambassador, it’s very wonderful to be with you – all of our colleagues from the government, thank you for being here today. And thank you as well to everyone joining us from companies here in the Philippines.
So as we were going around, it was almost a series of what we would call “elevator pitches” in business – but entrepreneurs, innovators, making a powerful difference. And they were all outstanding. Bringing power, solar power to fishing communities; expanding access to hydro power; developing microgrids, which make electric grids more flexible and more efficient; and so much more, all over there.
These efforts are more important than ever because every region in the world is experiencing the dangerous effects of the climate crisis. The Philippines is especially vulnerable. You’re dealing with more intense typhoons, extreme rainfall, rising temperatures and sea levels. This is a threat by definition that no one country, no one government can solve alone. We have to tackle it together. And investing in clean energy is one very powerful way to do that.
Last year the Philippines announced an ambitious clean energy goal – to produce 35 percent of the nation’s energy from renewable sources by 2030 and 50 percent by 2040. The United States commends these goals, and we’re committed to helping the Philippines achieve them.
Today, with a grant from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, we will lay the groundwork together for one of the first offshore wind projects in the Philippines. In time, that project will produce up to 3,000 megawatts of clean energy every single year. And to put that in perspective, 3,000 megawatts of clean energy, that’s enough to power more than two million homes. We hope it will galvanize more investments in wind power. That’s an industry with tremendous potential for growth here in the Philippines.
This new collaboration that we’re announcing today is only the latest example of our work in clean energy together. This summer we helped support your first competitive bidding program with energy providers committed to producing another 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2025. This past March, the Philippines joined the Clean Energy Demand Initiative. That’s a program run by the United States that connects countries looking to switch to clean energy with companies that can help them do that. So far to date, 12 companies representing $2 billion of investments have signed letters of intent to partner with the Philippines.
Last year our countries launched the Energy-Secure Philippines Initiative. That mobilizes private-sector investments and more clean energy generation throughout the Philippines.
We’re working together to develop a nuclear energy sector in the Philippines with our recent agreement to facilitate cooperation between our nuclear experts.
And as a founding member of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, the Philippines joins 13 countries across the region who are committing to clean energy, decarbonization as a key pillar of a stronger, fairer, more resilient economy.
This work is critical, and we are grateful to our partners across the Philippines – the government, the private sector, and civil society for their dedication to this nation’s clean energy future. Together we’re reducing carbon emissions while creating jobs. We’re sparking innovation. We’re producing affordable, reliable energy for families and communities throughout the country.
So it’s fitting that we’re marking this new partnership here in these gardens. As some of you may know, this location was actually an international airport until 1948. Now it’s an oasis in the middle of a bustling, busy city, a living reminder that with the right policies and investments, we can improve on our past, we can honor our planet, and we can deliver tangible benefits to our communities.
So thanks very much to everyone for being here today. Thanks for all the good work that we’re doing together. Thank you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Thank you, Secretary Blinken. I’m honored to invite on the stage Ambassador Romualdez. (Applause.)
AMBASSADOR ROMUALDEZ: Thank you, Betty. Well, first of all, I’d like to greet Secretary Blinken. It’s very good to see you in Manila instead of the usual Benjamin Franklin Room at the State Department. Great to see you here.
Ambassador MaryKay Carlson, you’ve been here two weeks, but it looks like you’ve been here for a year already with everybody.
But I’d like to also like to thank our hosts of for this beautiful triangle here – good friends Jaime Fernando Zóbel de Ayala – for hosting this event here; of course, Madame Ebong, the director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency; and Betty Chung, the Acting Mission Director of the USAID; (inaudible) the Philippine department of energy; our other colleagues in the Philippine and U.S. governments, our partners in the private sector; ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon to all of you.
I am honored to be joining you today for this clean energy expo. This event speaks very well of the importance of our two sides we place on addressing climate change and to the invaluable role of a private-public partnerships in making progress on this gargantuan task.
The Philippines takes climate seriously, being one of the three most vulnerable countries in the world when it comes to climate change. Betty and the USAID team here at Manila know that very well that we are receiving the end of the natural – number of natural disasters annually, super typhoons, earthquakes – we just had one recently – including the most recent one, the volcanic eruptions also.
The USAID is usually among the first of our international partners that come to our aid and support the emergency response and recovery efforts of the Philippine Government in the aftermath of this crisis.
Thank you very much, Betty, for the USAID’s Temporary Shelter Program, support for our communities in northern Luzon following last week’s earthquake. Beyond humanitarian assistance and disaster response, we need to zero in on the root of the problem and pursue solutions that would have significant impact in the long run. For this reason, the Philippines very much welcomed the first act of the Biden administration in rejoining the Paris Agreement. That reaffirmed, at the highest levels, the United States’ commitment to climate efforts, and we are proud and very grateful for the continuing partnership in this regard.
The United States remains a steadfast partner and supporter of emerging economies like the Philippines in facilitating job creation and building of a high quality and environment friendly energy infrastructures that support initiatives aimed at mitigating the impact of climate change.
Director Enoh, in April last year I witnessed virtually the signing of the USTDA grant for the Metro Pacific Intel and Transportation System master plan technical assistance. I am very pleased to witness in person today another ceremonial signing of a new USTDA project for this grant – this time will be Aboitiz Renewables Incorporated, which we hope will translate to new and better wind energy infrastructures that could provide Filipino homes in the near future economical, high quality, and sustainable, of course, or sourced electricity.
According to the World Bank estimates, the Philippines has over 170 – or 178 decawatts of technical offshore wind protection, which, if harnessed, would significantly help in meeting the increasing demand for energy in our country. I am confident that the Aboitiz Group, one of the largest power generation companies in the country, will be able to accomplish the goal of this grant and deliver the desired outcome of the project. I salute the USTDA’s Global Partnership for the Climate-Smart Infrastructure Initiative, and we certainly are looking forward to seeing more of that take shape here in the Philippines. Again, thank you very much and thank you to all of you. Good afternoon.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Ambassador Romualdez. We’ll now move to the grant signing portion of the event. May I invite Director Ebong to please sit here up at this table?
MS EBONG: Thank you, Betty, and Secretary Blinken, Ambassador Romualdez, Ambassador Carlson, our partners across the Philippines Government. It’s such a pleasure to be here meeting such innovative and impactful renewable energy companies. It is so clear that the ecosystem for innovation, creativity, and partnership remains very strong here in the Philippines. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency is well suited to meet the needs of the Philippines clean energy transition.
Our mission is to support the development of high-quality, sustainable infrastructure in emerging economies in collaboration with U.S. industry. This includes broad-based funding for feasibility studies and technical assistance, which are critical tools for ensuring that infrastructure products are financed, implemented, and sustained.
USTDA’s model of assistance is based on partnership and trust and shared priorities. Perhaps there’s no greater shared priority than tackling the climate crisis. In June, President Biden and the leaders of the G7 launched the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment to deliver game-changing projects to close the infrastructure gap and support a clean energy transition in countries like the Philippines.
We are committed to delivering on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework to strengthen our ties and build more resilient economies for our countries, our businesses, and our families. These are some of the reasons why USTDA is working with Aboitiz Renewables, Inc. to support the development of an offshore wind power project with the potential to deliver clean energy solutions in the Philippines.
Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute will perform the USTDA-funded feasibility study and provide incoming resources towards its completion, as will Singapore-based (inaudible) Capital.
I am grateful for their contributions and partnership, and I am proud of USTDA’s role in supporting the Philippines and its ambitious climate agenda. Thank you.