Partnering in a Global Commitment to a Clean Energy Future

For decades now, the science has continued to pile up, revealing the potentially devastating impacts of climate change to the United States and countries around the world. That’s why, from his first day at the State Department, Secretary Kerry has made it a priority to elevate the international effort to combat climate change to the forefront of U.S. foreign policy.

This effort has required an “alphabet soup” of bureaus and offices to engage to do their part to elevate and integrate this priority into their work. A key bureau in the implementation of efforts to mitigate climate change is the Bureau of Energy and Resources (ENR), which was created as part of the 2010 State Department and USAID joint plan to advance global priorities, better known as the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). The ENR Bureau was created as a way to foster international cooperation toward a global clean energy future while protecting our energy security and that of our allies and partners. Our team pursues in-depth engagement with other countries and builds partnerships with subnational and private sector climate change champions. This work is broadening the lens by which we pursue energy security to include diversified energy sources, more efficient technologies, and the financial tools and business models that support clean energy deployment. 

With energy at the nexus of national security, economic prosperity, and the environment, here are some examples of how we engage with international partners:

Supporting Clean Energy Policies in Morocco

Morocco is an emerging clean energy leader in Africa and the Middle East. The country is rapidly diversifying its energy portfolio to include more solar and wind energy and is on pace to meet its ambitious national clean energy targets. The State Department is helping Morocco refine its energy policies and support clean energy entrepreneurship in order to bolster inclusive economic growth through job creation, while also reducing Morocco’s carbon footprint. As evidence of its role as a global leader on climate, Morocco will host the Marrakech Climate Change Conference, also known as COP22, this month.

Investing in Clean Energy Solutions in India

India needs approximately $100 billion of investment to achieve its target of 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2022. Low-cost, long term debt financing from private sources, at an accelerated pace, will be critical to achieving India’s vision. Through the U.S.-India Clean Energy Finance Task Force, both countries are working to develop creative yet practical ways for India to leverage private investment in clean energy. As a result of these efforts, the Task Force is delivering concrete recommendations for bankable financial vehicles and structures that Indian authorities are moving to implement in real time. Secretary Kerry, Secretary Pritzker, Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs Hochstein, and other Department principals have actively engaged Indian counterparts and private sector partners in a robust bilateral dialogue that works with investors to promote opportunities for clean energy development.

Collaborating with China to Increase Clean Energy Investments

China’s power sector is undergoing dramatic changes in a reform process that is crucial for a low carbon energy transition. Although China has the world’s largest installations of solar and wind power, its energy needs are so great that traditional coal power remains by far the most dominant source of electricity. In June, as part of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Novelli co-chaired the inaugural meeting of a policy dialogue on increasing renewable energy utilization and advancing power sector reforms in China. The United States is collaborating with our Chinese counterparts to cultivate an enabling environment in China to attract private investment to support China’s clean energy economy by drawing on relevant U.S. and Chinese experiences and jointly developing and implementing policy and technical solutions.

Currently, there are more than one billion people without access to energy and another billion with unreliable access. That means that one in six of our fellow global citizens are unable to use a lightbulb, let alone connect to the Internet to access online information, obtain services and buy or sell goods. There are many opportunities to expand energy access across the world, such as renewable-based off-grid systems. As a Department, we are advocating for effective and impactful energy policies and opportunities to expand the use of these off-grid systems as part of our efforts to grow the middle class and provide more people around the world with access to clean, reliable power sources.

With the 2015 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review the U.S. government has made a renewed commitment to promote clean, sustainable energy use as part of its strategy to prevent and mitigate climate change, as well as expand the global middle class. At the Department of State, we have a unique role to play by convening people from around the world. If we continue to put that ability to use, we have a real opportunity to further American goals and interests by connecting people to reliable energy sources.

About the Author: Melanie Nakagawa serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Transformation in the Bureau of Energy Resources at the U.S. Department of State.

For more information:

Deputy Assistant Secretary Nakagawa, pictured above right, delivers remarks at ENR’s Silicon Valley Tech Challenge – Accelerating Access to Clean Energy Around the World workshop at UC Berkeley. [State Department photo]
Posted by Melanie Nakagawa
November 2, 2016


Latest Stories

January 19, 2017

What We Got Right

With a new administration taking office this week, it is natural to assess the inheritance it will receive from the… more