WASHINGTON, D.C. /eNewsChannels/ — Energy ministers from across the hemisphere gathered today 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), which President Barack Obama invited all democratically-elected governments to join in April 2009 at the Summit of the Americas. ECPA is comprised of voluntary initiatives focused on energy efficiency, renewable energy, cleaner fossil fuels, infrastructure, and energy poverty.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton underscored the United States’ commitment to help governments achieve low carbon economic growth. Secretary Clinton highlighted new initiatives that the Department of State is sponsoring under ECPA to expand energy and climate cooperation in the Americas. The Secretary also announced the expansion of ECPA climate cooperation to include future initiatives that address sustainable landscapes (forestry and land use) and adaptation.
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. The initiative will also help Central American and Caribbean partners start moving from plans to action on climate change adaptation.
Senior ECPA Fellows: 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. They will travel to the hemisphere to provide advice, share experiences, and consult with regional counterparts on clean energy, sustainable landscapes, and adaptation. Considering the scientific expertise that exists within the Hemisphere, Secretary Clinton invited other governments to also name Senior ECPA Fellows from academia and the private sector.
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.
Peace Corps Renewable Energy and Climate Change Initiative: Peace Corps will train its more than 2,000 volunteers placed in the rural areas of the Americas working on renewable energy and climate change. Funding provided by the Department of State will support volunteers’ efforts to address energy poverty by using small grants and local training to build the capacity of rural communities. Volunteers will introduce energy-efficient practices and alternative-energy technologies, including small-scale solar panels, cook stoves, small wind turbines and other energy-efficiency solutions.
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.
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.
Leaders of the Western Hemisphere recognize that energy is fundamental to sustainable development and they are committed to expanding cooperation to address the urgent and intertwined challenges of energy security and climate change. Further information is available at: www.ECPAmericas.org.