US to suggest hemispheric and energy and climate partnership

Annette Hester, CIGI Senior Fellow and CIC Research Associate

Most of the 34 hemisphere presidents have arrived and the Summit of the Americas will be officially underway in less than half an hour. There has been much anticipation regarding how President Obama will shift the US relationship with the Americas. While he is likely to stress human security, economic development, and the impact of the financial crisis on the countries in the region, he is certain to address the energy and environmental sectors.

In fact, the United States will be issuing an open invitation, on a voluntary basis, suggesting a Hemispheric Energy and Climate Partnership. The initiative will focus on four overall areas of cooperation. To start, governments will be asked to offer their views on what should be included and there will be promises of a continued dialogue. A variable geometry will allow some governments to cooperate on some subjects, but not others — making the initiative voluntary and a la carte. Cooperation will likely include energy efficiency, renewable energy, cleaner fossil fuel, energy infrastructure and energy poverty. Still, there is room for others areas to be singled out.

The sense from the Americans is that they are open to the participation of national labs, research centres, universities and government agencies in order to facilitate technology cooperation. They would then work with the OAS, the Inter-Development Bank as well as others to share best practices, build capacity, accelerate renewable energy, and promote energy efficiency. The stress however is that this is an aim to deepen cooperation – not a negotiation on climate change.

This is exactly in line with our proposal, a Blueprint for a Sustainable Energy Partnership in the Americas. Needless to say, we hope all other countries in the hemisphere embrace this proposal and get set to make it happen.

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