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Charting a Clean Energy Future for the Americas

President Obama has pledged that the United States will join with our partners across the Americas to chart a low-carbon, clean-energy future. Energy and climate challenges affect us all, and it will take all of us to solve them. The Americas are blessed with talent, ingenuity and resources, and we can go further, faster by working together than by working alone.

By HILLARY CLINTON and STEVEN CHU

STORY TOOLS

www.state.gov


President Obama has pledged that the United States will join with our partners across the Americas to chart a low-carbon, clean-energy future. Energy and climate challenges affect us all, and it will take all of us to solve them. The Americas are blessed with talent, ingenuity and resources, and we can go further, faster by working together than by working alone.

That's why this week in Washington we are hosting energy ministers from across the Western Hemisphere to advance the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA).

At the 2009 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, President Obama called on governments across the region to work together on a range of initiatives: promoting energy efficiency, developing renewable energy, shifting to cleaner fossil fuels, integrating national power grids, expanding access to electrical services to more people in more places and meeting the urgent global challenge of climate change. Since then, more than a dozen new ECPA initiatives are showcasing our hemisphere's best ideas and practices.

Here at home, we are changing our energy habits. We're working to reduce our dependence on imported oil and increase domestic production of renewable energy from wind, solar and biofuels. And we've put in place energy efficiency standards that will conserve energy and save consumers money. Our companies, universities and laboratories are expanding research and development of new clean energy technologies. And through ECPA, we have a forum to learn from our neighbors and the innovative approaches they are spearheading.

Costa Rica is pioneering forest conservation through its ecosystem services program. Brazil is a world leader in biofuels technology. Colombia has built cutting-edge urban mass-transit systems and is leading efforts in electricity integration. Mexico and Peru have implemented innovative programs for energy efficiency and conservation. Barbados is unlocking the potential of solar water heaters, and islands such as St. Kitts and Nevis and Dominica are developing their geothermal resources.

By cooperating on energy and climate, the nations of the Americas can all benefit from these advances. And clean, reliable energy will provide a foundation for broad-based economic growth that will widen the circle of prosperity across our hemisphere and also reduce our carbon emissions.

We're already making progress. As part of ECPA, the United States and the Inter-American Development Bank are working with partners across the region to develop a regional clean energy network that will link energy efficiency centers in Peru and Costa Rica with Chile's Renewable Energy Center in Santiago, Mexico's Wind Center in Oaxaca, a biomass center in Brazil and a geothermal center in El Salvador. This new network will bring U.S. and regional experts together to explore technologies and implementation strategies that will benefit us all.

Other governments are making critical contributions to ECPA. Brazil is leading an initiative to promote sustainable urban planning and energy efficiency in low-income households to respond to the challenges of urbanization and climate change. Colombia, which sits at the crossroads of Central and South America, is promoting cross-border trade in electricity with Panama, the Andes and Chile. Mexico, with a long commitment to help integrate Central American power markets, is training Central American officials on energy efficiency best practices. Trinidad and Tobago is leading a Caribbean initiative to bring renewable energy to island nations.

It is a testament to the resourcefulness of our people and the commitment of our governments that so many countries in the hemisphere are participating in -- and leading -- this effort.
These initiatives are only the beginning. At our meeting this week, we are mapping out new areas for collaboration, building on the best ideas of NGOs and the private sector and setting the stage for even greater progress in the future.

As President Obama said in Trinidad, through this partnership we will ``create the jobs of the future, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and make this hemisphere a model for cooperation.'' This week we are moving closer to making that vision a reality.


Hillary Rodham Clinton is secretary of state, and Steven Chu is secretary of energy.

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