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The Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) as a Metaphor for the Decline of United States Hegemony in the Western Hemisphere

As Published in Volumes 26 and 27 of Latin American Essays, MACLAS (Mid-Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies), 2014, pp. 19-32

Thomas Andrew O’Keefe
Mercosur Consulting Group, Ltd. & Stanford University


The idea for an Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas was first floated by then Senator Barack Hussein Obama in the sole policy address he gave on Latin America and the Caribbean during his initial run for the White House. The primary purpose of that May 2008 speech in Miami was to garner Cuban-American votes for his candidacy as well as that of two Cuban-American Democrats and one Colombian-American challenging incumbent Cuban-American Republican congresspersons from south Florida.[1] Not surprisingly, the speech focused heavily on U.S. relations with Cuba. Obama did, however, mention a proposal to create an Energy Partnership for the Americas. In particular, Obama stated that, if elected, his administration would allow industrial emitters of greenhouse gases in the United States to offset a portion of their emissions by investing in low carbon energy projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. He also pledged to increase research and development across the Americas in clean coal technology, in the next generation of sustainable biofuels not taken from food crops, and in wind, solar and nuclear energy.

At the Fifth Summit of the Americas held in Trinidad in April 2009, the U.S. delegation floated the idea of an Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas or ECPA.[2] Apart from adding the climate change concept, the substitution of the word “for” in the original proposal made by candidate Obama in May 2008 with the word “of” reflected a subtle acknowledgment that anything with a heavy U.S. imprimatur risked rejection by many Latin American governments suspicious of perceived U.S. designs on their energy resources. As a result, the Obama administration went out of its way to emphasize that ECPA was “voluntary, allowing governments, inter-American organizations, private industry, and civil society to lead or participate in initiatives that reflect their priorities.”[3] Governments were invited to work jointly or on their own to lead initiatives, finance activities, and/or create welcoming policy environments that encourage low carbon development. Countries were also free to identify areas where they could contribute or needed assistance or where they could collaborate.

ECPA’s goals are particularly pertinent in a region of the world that is blessed with an abundance and diversity of both conventional and renewable energy resources. Roughly a third of the world’s proven reserves of oil are found in the Western Hemisphere.[4] Latin America alone accounts for just under 14 percent of world oil output but only consumes about half that.[5] Overall, Latin America and the Caribbean utilizes about a quarter of its total energy potential.[6] Equally as important, huge expanses of tropical rain forests in South America provide a natural carbon sink for sequestering global greenhouse gas emissions. Yet despite a myriad of factors acting in ECPA’s favor, the initiative’s actual achievements to date have been disappointing. Much of the blame can be placed on the United States itself which has failed to enact climate change legislation at the federal level. In addition, the country’s finances have been wracked by two major wars that have dragged on for more than a decade as well as abuses in the banking sector that required multi-billion dollar bailouts, decimated the U.S. real estate sector, and impoverished millions o Americans. Another impediment has been the resurgence of resource nationalism in many Latin American countries, a force that a politically and economically weakened United States has been unable to challenge. Accordingly, the underlying premise of this article is that the inability of ECPA to make meaningful inroads in integrating hemispheric energy markets or reducing carbon emissions underscores how the traditional hegemony wielded by the United States over the rest of the Americas has significantly declined over the past decade.

The First ECPA Ministerial

The prospects for ECPA coming out of the Trinidad Summit of April 2009 were less than auspicious. A meeting of some Latin American energy ministers in Lima in June of 2009 did not even count with the physical presence of the U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. Among the few concrete achievements that emerged from that energy symposium was a bilateral agreement signed by U.S. and Peruvian officials to establish a Regional Efficiency Center. For its part, the Mexican representatives agreed to fund a Regional Wind Center based in Oaxaca. The U.S. delegation also proposed a “Low Carbon Communities Program” through which the U.S. Department of Energy will “partner with countries in the region to provide technical assistance and limited funding to develop building standards and adopt modern urban planning strategies including transit-oriented development to achieve low carbon communities.”[7]

In the months following the Lima meeting in June 2009, additional proposals were made to establish a regional Renewable Energy Center in Chile, an Energy Efficiency Training Center in Costa Rica in conjunction with the Natural Resources Defense Council, a Biomass Center in Brazil, and a Geothermal Center in El Salvador with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and the U.S. Department of Energy.[8]

The first Energy and Climate Ministerial of the Americas that formally launched ECPA was held in Washington, D.C. on April 15-16, 2010 and was attended by representatives from 32 of the 35 governments in the Western Hemisphere. ECPA is premised on at least seven pillars (the last two U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proposed adding at the April 2010 Ministerial itself):

  1. Energy Efficiency (i.e., promoting 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);
  2. Renewable Energy (i.e., accelerating clean energy deployment via project support, policy dialogues, scientific collaboration, and the clean energy technology network);
  3. Cleaner and More Efficient Use of Fossil Fuels (i.e., promoting clean energy technologies to reduce both conventional pollution and the carbon footprint of fossil fuels, as well as best practices on land use management);
  4. Energy Infrastructure (i.e., fostering modernized, integrated, and more resilient energy infrastructure, particularly electrical grids and gas pipelines);
  5. Energy Poverty (i.e., targeting 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);
  6. Sustainable Forestry and Land Use (i.e., reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and enhancing carbon sequestration in the land use sector, including through the conservation and sustainable management of forests); and,
  7. Adaptation assistance to developing countries impacted by climate change.

At the first Energy and Climate Ministerial of the Americas the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it would provide technical support, including hosting a workshop, to explore the potential for building a Caribbean-wide system using submarine sea cables to transmit electricity generated from renewable energy sources. The U.S. Department of Energy and the IADB also signed an agreement creating an Energy Innovation Center to allow both entities to coordinate resources to facilitate regional projects and activities. The Center will serve as a focal point for accessing the Bank’s annual energy financing pipeline that currently has U.S.$ 1.5 billion. In addition, the Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado announced a partnership with scientists and technology experts in Colombia involved in research to help identify, evaluate, and promote technologies for sustainable biomass use in that country.

For its part, the U.S. State Department released the names of three U.S. scientists who would serve as Senior ECPA Fellows and travel to countries in the Western Hemisphere to provide advice, share experiences, and consult with regional counterparts on clean energy, sustainable landscapes, and adaptation to climate change. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was selected to serve as the lead agency to coordinate U.S. government technical assistance to countries interested in sharing information to expand production and usage of renewable biomass energy that is sustainable.

Since the April 2010 ECPA Ministerial, Canada has led a working group on heavy oil, with representation from Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, the United States, and Venezuela. Mexico, for its part, leads a working group on energy efficiency that includes all of the countries in the Western Hemisphere and shares best practices and experiences to develop regional partnerships that promote efficiency and conservation. Brazil, in turn, leads an initiative focused on building environmentally sustainable low-income housing across Latin America and the Caribbean and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from solid waste. The American Planning Association also provides technical assistance, with very limited funding from the U.S. State Department.

Chile has aggressively used ECPA to address energy-related matters affecting the country and its neighbors. As indicated previously, Chile hosts a regional Renewable Energy Center that receives technical assistance from the U.S. Department of Energy and has an open-access web site portal called “Open Energy Info” to facilitate the regional exchange of information on renewable energy resources. Chile also participates, along with Argentina, Colombia, Peru, the United States, and Uruguay, in an ECPA shale gas initiative that exchanges information on how to safely exploit shale gas reserves and minimize negative environmental impacts. In addition, Chile has joined Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Peru in exploring ways to interconnect all the national electric grids from Panama to Chile, beginning with harmonizing their respective regulatory frameworks.

Other ECPA projects include U.S.-based electric generator Southern Company working with a Colombian non-governmental organization to train disadvantaged secondary students for future careers in the energy sector. The U.S. Department of Energy is working with the Ecuadorean Ministry of Coordination of Production, Employment and Competitiveness in turning residues generated by industrial processes into valuable commodities or inputs.

Finally, the U.S. Peace Corps has an ECPA initiative that supports energy-efficient practices and the use of alternative energy technologies, including small-scale home or school solar solutions, cook stoves, small wind turbines, and other energy efficiency solutions in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Suriname. In Paraguay, the Peace Corps has also trained a group of small farmers to use a device called a bio-digester to properly treat organic waste and provide renewable energy and organic fertilizer.

The Western Hemisphere Provides a Wealth of Opportunity to Redress Energy Security and Global Climate Change

As previously noted, the Western Hemisphere enjoys abundant and diverse reserves of both conventional and renewable energy resources. The extensive exploitation of natural gas from shale rock in the United States in recent years is expected to sharply reduce that country’s dependence on foreign energy imports and even make it an exporter of liquefied natural exporter (LNG). Large shale rock formations----and presumably vast reserves of natural gas that can now be unlocked through hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”---are found throughout Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and Mexico.

The discovery of major off-shore reserves of light oil and natural gas under miles of rock and salt formations in Brazil have the potential to make that country a major exporter of petroleum. Since 2006, Brazil is already is self-sufficient in crude oil. Among the top ten energy-consuming countries in the world, Brazil also has the cleanest energy matrix, with 85 percent of its electricity generated by hydropower and a whopping 60 percent of its total energy consumption coming from renewable sources.[9]

Furthermore, with over a quarter of the world’s fresh water supplies, South America can comfortably expand its already high electrical generating capacity through hydropower, although this may eventually run up against climate change induced shortages.

Of course not all the Western Hemisphere’s abundant and diverse energy resources are evenly distributed. Most of the Caribbean, with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago, relies on imported fossil fuels to generate electricity and meet transportation needs. A similar situation exists in Central America. Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay are net energy importers on a continent that is otherwise a net exporter. What all these countries have in abundance is the potential to greatly utilize energy generated from the sun, wind, and sea, as well as geothermal sources. Integrating the hemisphere’s energy markets primarily through the interconnection of physical infrastructure such as electricity grids has the potential to fully utilize this panoply of energy resources and direct it to countries where the need is greatest. It can also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Interestingly, increasing reliance on natural gas, obtained from vast shale reserves, can play a useful role as a transitional fuel to renewable energy sources if it reduces current reliance on oil and coal.[10] Natural gas emits slightly more than half as much carbon dioxide as coal and 70 percent as much as oil, per unit of energy output, while emissions of carbon monoxide are a fifth as much as coal, and emissions of sulphur dioxide and particulates are negligible.[11]

In addition to being blessed with an abundance of diverse energy resources, the Americas are also home to a vast expanse of tropical rain forests such as the Amazon Basin which stores an estimated 20 times the carbon content of the world’s annual greenhouse gas emissions — some 49 billion metric tons of carbon — in the biomass of its tropical
forest.[12] At the same time some of the world’s largest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions are found in the Western Hemisphere, including the United States, which now is ranked number two after recently losing its first place position to China. Canada’s emissions, while only one-tenth of its southern neighbor’s, are expected to increase further as it develops its oil sand reserves in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Mexico is another major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions as a result of a combination of subsidized oil prices and a highly inefficient state energy monopoly that has contributed to high dependency on fossil fuels to generate electricity as well as on widespread natural gas flaring. Accordingly, the Western Hemisphere offers an opportunity to establish the type of “cap-and-trade” initiative proposed by then-Senator Obama in 2008, whereby industrial emitters of greenhouse gases in North America can offset a portion of their emissions by investing in low carbon energy projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Adoption of the concept embodied in the United Nation’s Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) as an alternative means for obtaining greenhouse gas emission credits would provide further support for a hemispheric “cap-and-trade” program. REDD is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. REDD-plus has subsequently added the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks as a way to potentially generate financial flows from the developed to developing countries.[13] In March 2010 the governments of Brazil and the United States signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation Regarding Climate Change that promotes bilateral cooperation to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation pursuant to REDD-plus. This marks a remarkable policy shift given that Brazil---citing sovereignty concerns and historical fears of “internationalizing” the Amazon---had previously refused to permit any type of legally binding Amazonian conservation or sustainable use initiative to generate carbon credits.[14]

ECPA Underscores the Precarious Nature of U.S. Finances

With the exception of the U.S.$ 1.5 billion line of credit that the IADB already had on hand for energy and climate related projects prior to the ECPA’s official launch in April of 2010, the amount of money that has been committed to ECPA by the U.S. government does not surpass U.S.$ 150 million. Oftentimes the two U.S. government agencies at the forefront in funding ECPA initiatives, the Department of Energy and the State Department, simply piggyback onto projects that have already been developed and financed by the IADB or other entities such as the Organization of American States (OAS).[15] In addition, while the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funds environmental programs designed to reduce greenhouse emissions that promote energy efficiency, forest conservation, biodiversity, and other development goals, this is not a result of ECPA but something that began almost a decade earlier. Moreover, these programs only cover a minority of countries in the Western Hemisphere.[16] One early ECPA initiative that has already collapsed is the one involving the three U.S. scientists that were supposed to share their expertise throughout the Americas on renewable energy and climate change. After the U.S. government failed to adequately fund the program, these three world-renowned scientists soon lost interest and began pursuing other opportunities.

If climate change poses as serious a threat to the planet as many scientists believe, the monies appropriated to ECPA by the U.S. government are embarrassingly meager and will do little to stave off impending global catastrophe. Much of the explanation for the negligible funding can be attributed to the precarious economic recovery in the United States that has made it difficult to replenish federal government coffers depleted after years of diminishing tax revenue collection, costly bail outs of major banks and industries, and two ultimately unwinnable wars.[17] Furthermore, achieving many of ECPA’s objectives is made difficult — if not impossible — by the resurgence of resource nationalism in many Latin American countries in recent years that has curtailed foreign investment and technology transfer in the petroleum sector and led to a significant drop in output.

The Inability of the United States to Lead on Climate Change

The United States currently lacks credibility to lead any hemispheric initiative on climate change as it never ratified the Kyoto Protocol to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, and thereby chose not to legally bind itself to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, a highly polarized political climate in the United States has led to a paralysis that prevents passage of federal climate change legislation which would, among other things, establish a carbon emissions trading scheme at the national level. Both factors combined mean that the United States does not participate in the U.N.-administered Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) that was established under the Kyoto Protocol. It also makes it impossible to convert into reality the vision expressed by then-Senator Obama in May 2008 to allow industrial emitters of greenhouse gases in the United States to offset a portion of their emissions by investing in low carbon energy projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Under the multilateral CDM, credits are issued to a developed country and its companies in return for financing projects in the developing world. These may include building a more expensive thermal plant fueled by natural gas, or a hydro dam to generate electricity instead of a cheaper coal powered generator. Both reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and would not have been built but for the funding from the rich country donor. The credits received through the CDM are then used to offset mandated emission targets at home. The CDM was set to expire at the end of 2012, but received a temporary reprieve at the U.N. Conference on Climate Change (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa in December 2011 when some 35 developed countries agreed to extend their Kyoto Protocol mandates (and, as a consequence, their participation in the CDM) until such time as a new climate change agreement is concluded by all U.N. member states. The deadline for achieving such an agreement, which should include the United States and all major developing countries committing to legally binding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, is now set for 2015 (although expiration of the CDM was extended to 2020 at the U.N. Conference on Climate Change (COP 18) celebrated in Doha, Qatar in November of 2012).


Since it was first proposed by the U.S. delegation at the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad in April 2009, ECPA remains a poorly funded and little-known initiative that has produced meager results. It speaks volumes that neither President Obama, in his speech to the heads of state gathered at the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena in April 2012, nor a senior member of the U.S. delegation, even bothered to raise ECPA. This omission is quite glaring given that ECPA had been the U.S. government’s official submission for fulfilling the energy and climate change r0elated mandates arising from the Trinidad Summit in 2009.[18] It appears that ECPA is yet another example where “[t]he Obama administration has spoken repeatedly about developing more of a partnership with its southern neighbors, but U.S. policies have yet to match that soaring rhetoric.”[19]

In many ways the failure of ECPA to gain traction is a reflection of the decline of United States hegemony in the Western Hemisphere. Unlike the 1990’s when a U.S. President could boldly announce the creation of a free trade area to encompass all of the Americas and have every single government (but for that of Cuba) sign on, Washington, D.C. is today reduced to suggesting partnerships that it is unable to lead or adequately fund. This new reality, however, does provide a golden opportunity for other governments in the Americas to step up to the plate and supply the type of visionary and creative leadership as well as resources required to make ECPA an important vehicle for enhancing regional energy security and drastically reducing hemispheric greenhouse gas emissions.

Even before the appearance of ECPA, Chile had already begun exercising masterful diplomatic skill in organizing fellow South American states to develop an Energy Ring as well as cross-border energy resource swaps to ensure uninterrupted supplies of natural gas within the Southern Cone and overcome shortages induced by the poor policy decisions of Argentina and Bolivia. It is therefore not a surprise that Chile has emerged as a leader in utilizing ECPA to secure investment in a multiplicity of renewable energy projects designed to reduce the country’s reliance on imported fossil fuels. Similarly, under the previous administration of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil exhibited clever diplomatic skills in helping to defang Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s bite, defuse a long simmering dispute with Paraguay over hydroelectricity tariffs before Brasilia was contractually obligated to do so, and supporting stability in Bolivia by pledges to continue importing natural gas from that country even when no longer necessary.[20] Lula’s successor, Dilma Rouseff appears equally as astute in defusing regional tensions and is even more pragmatic in terms of international policy approaches.[21] Colombia’s ambition to use ECPA to encourage the interconnection of the electricity networks throughout the Americas, thereby creating a seamless grid from Canada to the Patagonia, has been boosted by major diplomatic initiatives pursued President José Santos to repair frayed relations with its neighbors. For its part, Canada may have played an important role to further the goals of ECPA by pushing for the creation of a heavy oil working group that brought the United States and Venezuela together to discuss an issue of mutual interest.

If ECPA is to seriously redress the needs of Latin America and the Caribbean, it is going to require governments in the region to step out of the shadows and play a more pro-active role than they have traditionally been accustomed in any initiative that involves the United States. Furthermore, they will need to become more imaginative in devising ways to secure funding as the United States can no longer be counted on to foot the bill.


Arnson, Cynthia J., Claudio Fuentes, and Francisco Rojas, eds., Energy and Development in South America: Conflict and Cooperation. Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2008.

“Brazil’s Foreign-Aid Programme: Speak Softly and Carry a Blank Cheque.” The Economist (July 17, 2010): 46.

Brinkley, Joel. “Iraq Outlook Looks Dim After U.S. Troop Pullout: Some Predict Another Brutal Dictatorship.” Politico 27 Feb. 2012: 1.

British Petroleum, BP Statistical Review of World Energy. London: British Petroleum, PLC, June 2012.

Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). Blueprint for a Sustainable Energy Partnership for the Americas. Waterloo, Ontario: CIGI, 2009.

Chazan, Guy. “Shale Gas Boom Leads to Sharp Drop in U.S. Carbon Emissions.”

Leahy, Joe. “Brazil Steps Away From Periphery.” Financial Times 12 April 2012: 5

Roogenkamp. Martha M., Lila Barrera-Hernandez, Donald N. Zillman, and Iñigo del Guayo, eds., Energy Networks and the Law: Innovative Solutions in Changing Markets. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

U.S. Department of Energy. Press Release “Americas’ Energy Leaders Take Action to Realize Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas .“ June 16, 2009.

U.S. Energy Information Agency. Brazil Country Analysis Brief. 28 Feb. 2012.

The White House. Press Release. “The United States and the 2009 Summit of the Americas: Securing Our Citizens’ Future.” April 19, 2009.

Weitzman, Hal. Latin Lessons: How South America Stopped Listening to the United States and Started Prospering. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012.

Wolf, Martin. “Prepare for the Golden Age of Gas.” Financial Times 22 Feb. 2012: 9.


1. Interestingly, none of the three Democratic candidates, who included the former Executive Director of the Cuban-American National Foundation, won, as Lincoln Diaz-Balart and his brother Mario as well as Ileana Ros-Lehtinen were easily re-elected.

2. A press release put out by the White House on April 19, 2009 noted only that “President Obama invited countries of the region to participate in an Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas; a voluntary and flexible framework for advancing energy security and combating climate change. Countries will be encouraged to suggest tangible ideas for cooperation, including on energy efficiency, renewable energy, cleaner fossil fuels, and energy infrastructure.” The White House, Press Release, “The United States and the 2009 Summit of the Americas: Securing Our Citizens’ Future.” April 19, 2009. Available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/united-states-and-2009-summit-americas-securing-our-citizens-future

3. See, U.S. Department of Energy, “ECPA-Open Invitation and Flexible Framework.” Available at: http://energy.gov/node/1939/office-policy-and-international-affairs/initiatives/energy-climate-partnership

4. British Petroleum. BP Statistical Review of World Energy (London: British Petroleum, PLC, June 2012), 6. Available at: http://bp.com/statisticalreview

5. José Miguel Insulza, “Energy and Development in South America,” in C. Arnson et al. (eds.), Energy and Development in South America: Conflict and Cooperation (Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2008), 9.

6. Lila Barrera-Hernández, “South American Energy Network Integration: Mission Possible?” in M.M. Roogenkamp et al. (eds.), Energy Networks and the Law: Innovative Solutions in Changing Markets (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 61. Natural gas’s reserves-to-production ratio exceeds 120 years in Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.

7. See, U.S. Department of Energy, Press Release, “Americas’ Energy Leaders Take Action to Realize Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas,” 16 June 2009. Available at: http://www.energy.gov/articles/americas-energy-leaders-take-action-realize-energy-and-climate-partnership-americas The emphasis on “limited funding” practically ensures that this program will likely meet the same fate as the Clean Cities partnership proposed by the Clinton administration back in 1999. That initiative with similar objectives but limited to Chile collapsed from a lack of funding at a time when the Federal government enjoyed a healthy fiscal surplus.

8. A full list of the initiatives falling under the ECPA umbrella is available at: http://www.ecpamericas.org

9. United States Energy Information Agency, Brazil Country Analysis Brief, February 28, 2012. Available at: http://www.eia.gov/emeu/cabs/Brazil/pdf.pdf By way of comparison, renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass, as well as hydropower, generated only 13 percent of the electricity in the United States in 2011, while renewable sources contributed to approximately 8 percent of total energy consumption. One reason for Brazil’s high reliance on renewable energy resources is that almost the entire passenger vehicle fleet is now equipped with flex fuel engines that allow Brazilian drivers to run their cars exclusively on ethanol.

10. Interestingly, the shale gas boom (along with improvements in fuel efficiency for transport) in the United States has already led to a big drop in the country’s carbon emissions, as power generators switch from coal to cheap natural gas. According to the International Energy Agency, U.S. energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, fell by 450 million tons over the past five years---the largest drop among the countries surveyed. Guy Chazan, “Shale Gas Boom Leads to Sharp Drop in U.S. Carbon Emissions,” Financial Times 24 May 2012: 1.

11. Martin Wolf, “Prepare for the Golden Age of Gas,” Financial Times 22 Feb. 2012: 9.

12. Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), Blueprint for a Sustainable Energy Partnership for the Americas (Waterloo, Ontario: CIGI, 2009), 9.

13. At the multilateral level there has been much talk of incorporating REDD-plus projects into the panoply of options included in a new global carbon off set regime under whatever international agreement eventually replaces the Kyoto Protocol. At the December 2011 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, standards were issued for financing REDD-plus projects (including the use of market and non-market sources).

14. For example, as recently as April 2009 the Brazilian government under the U.N. REDD umbrella proposed the creation of a strictly voluntary fund that developed countries would contribute to for the purpose of paying developing countries ex-post financial incentives when they can demonstrate, in a transparent and credible manner, that they have reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Decreases in emissions would be credited and increases in emissions converted into a debit from future financial incentives.

15. The OAS oversees implementation of the Caribbean Sustainable Energy Program (CSEP) funded primarily by the European Union, with some contributions from the U.S. Department of Energy, to enable the tiny island nations of the Eastern Caribbean and The Bahamas to increase the sustainability of their energy supplies while reducing carbon emissions through the development and use of renewable energy and energy efficiency systems. The OAS also oversees implementation of a Caribbean-wide program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to facilitate regional dialogue on long-term sustainable energy solutions, and to help national governments promote and implement sustainable energy policies and programs through short-term legal counseling and technical assistance.

16. For example, USAID is supporting reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the energy sector, industry and urban areas in Central America through a U.S.$ 10 million Development Credit Authority (DCA) loan guarantee to provide credit to small and medium size entities to invest in cleaner production technology; industrial and municipal waste reduction and recycling efforts; and pilot municipal waste methane gas recovery. Through the Initiative for Conservation in the Andean Amazon (ICAA), USAID and its partners expect to leverage U.S.$ 65 million from the United States Government and other public and private sources over the next five years for conservation in the Amazonian portions of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia that contributes to the mitigation of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. USAID is also funding small country specific projects in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru that are primarily focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through changes in current land use practices (namely the destruction of rain forests).

17. A recent comprehensive academic study put the actual costs of both the Iraq and Afghan wars through the end of 2011 at U.S.$ 4.4 trillion, counting expenses such as veterans’ medical benefits. By contrast, the Congressional Budget Office’s most recent estimation was just U.S.$ 1.5 trillion. See, Joel Brinkley, “Iraq Outlook Looks Dim After U.S. Troop Pullout: Some Predict Another Brutal Dictatorship,” Politico 27 Feb. 2012:1.

18. See, OAS Summit Implementation Review Group, Report of the United States Government on Implementation of Mandates from the Fifth Summit of the Americas, May 27, 2010. Available at: http://www.summit-americas.org/nat_rep/2010/USA_en.pdf

19. Hal Weitzman, Latin Lessons: How South America Stopped Listening to the United States and Started Prospering (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012) 4. In fairness to the Obama White House, this failure to follow through on initiatives focused on Latin America so that they have a meaningful impact also characterized the administration of George W. Bush. For example, in a halfhearted effort to combat populism in the region, the United States equipped a naval ship in 2007 to stop off at the ports of eleven poor Latin American countries to offer medical consultations for eighty-five thousand people---less than 4 percent of the number of Bolivians whom Cuban doctors treated in Evo Morales’s first year in power. Weitzman at 214.

20. Under the Lula government, Brazil became one of the world’s biggest sources of aid to poor countries. The value of all Brazilian development aid broadly defined hovers around U.S.$ 4 billion a year; less than China but similar to generous donors such as Sweden and Canada---and unlike theirs, Brazil’s contributions are soaring. “Brazil’s Foreign-Aid Programme: Speak Softly and Carry a Blank Cheque,” The Economist 17 July 2010:46.

21. See, e.g., Joe Leahy, “Brazil Steps Away From Periphery,” Financial Times 12 April 2012: 5. The article’s author notes that while Rousseff is “less antagonistic to the U.S. than her predecessor, she is not seeking to make any radical break with Brazil’s traditions of non-alignment with the ‘great powers’.”

03/13/14. 01:53:16 pm. Categories: Articles, Latin American Law & Business Report ,

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