EEDIM: Closing Statement

USOSCE Political Officer Dustin DeGrande delivering the U.S. closing statement at the 2018 OSCE Economic and Environmental Dimension Implementation Meeting, Vienna, Austria, October 16, 2018. (USOSCE/Colin Peters)

Closing Statement at the OSCE Economic and Environmental Dimension Implementation Meeting

As delivered by Political Officer Dustin DeGrande,
Vienna, October 16, 2018

Thank you, Mr. Chair, Ambassador Žugić, Ambassador Frattini, and the incoming Slovak Chairmanship for your statements. And thank you, once again, to the Chairmanship and Office of Economic and Environmental Activities for organizing this week’s Economic and Environment Dimension Implementation Meeting.

As we mentioned in our opening statement, EEDIM gives us the opportunity to reflect back on how we participating States have been implementing our OSCE commitments, in this case, in issues related to energy. It also gives us the chance to look ahead and think about where to go from here. Throughout these two days, we have heard some common themes emerge.

The digital transformation has turned the energy sector on its head. The old, top-down, monolithic, inefficient industrial giants are being replaced by dynamic, decentralized, diverse, and efficient producers. Generation and transmission chains have been split, and consumers sometimes double as producers, feeding energy back into the power grid through solar panels or wind turbines.

With these changes, we face new energy security challenges. In participating States’ drive to decarbonize, we must balance highly variable renewable energy sources with more reliable sources or risk an energy shortfall. Countries at various stages of development continue to rely on outdated and polluting lignite coal power plants, even as they invest in renewables. Smarter power grids, buildings, and the internet of things offer efficiency gains but introduce new vulnerabilities and could expose personal data to theft by malicious actors. Pipelines open new energy markets, but some countries have weaponized them for political or corrupt ends. Critical energy infrastructure remains vulnerable to attack or natural disasters.

We have heard these two days some recommendations to address these opportunities, challenges, and threats. As Dave Brannegan from Argonne Laboratories argued, every participating State should identify their infrastructure risks and constantly stress test them. Benedict Hoskuldsson from Sustainable Energy for All agreed that it is critical that governments coordinate with stakeholders – in particular, the private sector – to collect reliable data, inform their tests and policies, and find solutions. Dr. Ostojic from the World Bank Group explained how smart grids are at the center of the digital transformation and can help overcome some of the challenges of an integrated and interdependent power system.

We would also point out some additional requirements for global energy security. Participating States should promote the diversification of supplies, resources, and geographic sources. As a matter of long-term security, we encourage participating States to support good governance and rule of law, market liberalization, and conforming to regulations regimes that comply with international standards. Natural and manmade threats to cyber and physical security of critical infrastructure require vigilance, coordination, and protective measures. As we heard this week, we should as a matter of security broaden energy access, including through renewables and enhanced efficiency. Engaging more in our discussions with the private sector is necessary for us to fully understand the industry and its needs.

In conclusion, as we have seen, energy is a complex basket of issues, most of which have security implications. There is a wide range of views, often based on national circumstances. But a difference of opinion does not mean we should not tackle these issues over the coming year. In fact, it is the opposite. With new technologies completely changing the energy field, and even our way of life, it is important we have real debates that reflect today’s reality and chart a sustainable path forward.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.