Last week, energy ministers from across the hemisphere gathered at the Energy and Climate Ministerial of the Americas, hosted by U.S. Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu.
The Ministerial is part of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton used the occasion to announce new initiatives that the Department of State is sponsoring under ECPA to expand energy and climate cooperation in the Americas.
For example, Secretary Clinton announced that the Department of State is committed to:
- Advancing Sustainable Energy in the Caribbean. Department of State assistance to the Organization of American States will support a dialogue with Caribbean energy officials and institutions, donor governments, multilateral institutions, and the private sector to explore Caribbean indigenous resources and the potential role of electrical interconnections via sub-sea cables. To accelerate clean energy deployment, the initiative will also provide legal and technical advice to governments considering new renewable energy projects.
- Strengthening Central American Energy and Environmental Security. Central America, like the Caribbean, is a region with significant renewable energy potential, but a high dependence on imported fossil fuels for power generation. The initiative will support Central America’s long commitment to integrate power markets and activities that promote the region’s clean energy development and will also help Central American and Caribbean partners start moving from plans to action on climate change adaptation.
- Advancing Sustainable Biomass Energy. The U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are inviting interested countries to collaborate on scientific exchanges to advance renewable biomass energy that is sustainable. The initiative aims to generate and share information that can be applied by participating ECPA countries for expanding production and usage of renewable biomass for energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions while minimizing impacts on natural resources. USDA will serve as the U.S. technical lead agency and will coordinate U.S. government technical assistance to partners in the region.
- Cooperating on Sustainable Urban Development and Planning. In support of Brazil’s ECPA initiative “Building with Energy Efficiency and Sustainability,” which was launched at the World Urban Forum on March 25, the Department of State will provide funding to support better urban planning in the hemisphere. This will include capacity building for urban officials; technical and educational exchanges; a forum for highlighting best practices; and supporting and developing governmental, non-governmental and academic institutions among participating countries.
- Promoting Shale Gas in the Americas. The Department of State, working through the U.S. Geological Survey, proposes to collaborate with selected countries to examine the potential for developing unconventional natural gas resources, including gas from shale.
In addition, Secretary Clinton named three U.S. scientists to serve as Senior ECPA Fellows to the Americas: 1) Dr. Daniel Kammen, Professor of Energy at the University of California, Berkeley; 2) Dr. Ruth Defries, Professor of Sustainable Development in Columbia University’s Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology; and 3) Dr. Gerry Galloway, Professor of Engineering at the University of Maryland.
These new initiatives for renewable/clean energy will undoubtedly help boost activity and interest in the kind of innovative energy projects that are fundamental to sustainable business development –just another reason it’s great to see broad-based, cooperative initiatives like this that recognize and begin to address the intertwined challenges of energy security and climate change.
If you’d like more information, please see www.ECPAmericas.org.