At the April 2009 Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, leaders of the Western Hemisphere underscored that energy and climate change are among the most important issues confronting our future and they reaffirmed their commitment to work together towards a clean energy future. Responding to these shared challenges, U.S. President Obama invited all governments in the Western Hemisphere to join in an Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA). President Obama said “our hemisphere has bountiful natural resources that could make renewable energy plentiful and sustainable, while creating jobs for our people.” An Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, he said, “will help us learn from one another, share technologies, leverage investment, and maximize our comparative advantage.”
When he invited countries to participate in ECPA, President Obama suggested ECPA focus on energy efficiency, renewable energy, cleaner and more efficient use of fossil fuels, energy poverty, and infrastructure. In the first year, nearly a dozen initiatives and projects began under ECPA in these areas, led by the United States, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago. Inter-American and regional institutions such as the Organization of American States (OAS), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE), multilateral development banks such as the World Bank, private sector, civil society, and academia are supporting ECPA.
In April 2010, as part of ECPA, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu invited Western Hemisphere energy ministers to the Energy and Climate Ministerial of the Americas to highlight progress, announce new partnerships and facilitate the development of new initiatives among governments, institutions, private industry, and civil society. At this ministerial, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton proposed ECPA’s focus be expanded to also include initiatives regarding sustainable forests and land use, as well as climate change adaptation.
Energy Efficiency: Promote best policy practices through assistance in developing building codes and other standards in the industrial and residential sectors, as well as training for energy audits.
Renewable Energy: Accelerate clean energy deployment via project support, policy dialogues, scientific collaboration, and the clean energy technology network.
Cleaner and More Efficient Use of Fossil Fuels: Promote clean energy technologies to reduce both conventional pollution and the carbon footprint of fossil fuels, as well as best practices on land use management.
Energy Infrastructure: Foster modernized, integrated, and more resilient energy infrastructure, particularly electrical grids and gas pipelines.
Energy Poverty: Target urban and rural energy poverty with strategies to promote sustainable urban development and improve access to modern clean energy services and appropriate technologies in rural areas that can improve public health and reduce fuel wood use that benefits forest management.
Sustainable Forests and Land Use: Reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and enhance carbon sequestration in the land use sector, including through the conservation and sustainable management of forests.
Adaptation: Assist vulnerable countries and communities with strategies to understand and reduce their vulnerabilities to the impacts of climate change.
Under ECPA, the lead and/or participating governments and public and private sector partners contribute resources to implement the initiatives. ECPA’s initial focus and structure was developed at the June 2009 Americas Energy and Climate Symposium in Lima, Peru, co-hosted by the Peruvian and U.S. governments and the Institute of the Americas.
Participants acknowledged the enormous potential to accelerate clean energy uptake in the Americas, identified opportunities for partnership under ECPA, and stressed that initiatives should produce tangible results, promote best policy and regulatory practices, and build capacity in the design, evaluation, and implementation of clean and environmentally-sustainable energy policies and projects.