Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

The next US chief for the Western Hemisphere needs experience on climate, clean energy, resource scarcity and green growth

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on July 15, 2011

by Guy Edwards and Kelly Rogers for Intercambio Climatico, July 15th, 2011.

Since the US Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Arturo Valenzuela, announced his plans to retire this summer via Twitter, commentators debate who should replace him and whether this change presents an opportunity to alter the Obama Administration’s policies in the region. The Inter-American Dialogue invited four of Dr. Valenzuelas predecessors to share what qualities his successor will need. However, all but one failed entirely to mention the issues of climate change, clean energy, resource scarcity and green growth.

The new assistant secretary needs to have experience on these issues. In Chile, President Barack Obama spoke of the urgency of tackling climate change and embracing a more secure and sustainable energy future in the Americas. His administration has stated that securing a clean energy future is one of the four over-arching priorities in the region. The Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, which aims to accelerate the deployment of clean energy and advance energy security, is an essential component of hemispheric relations.

Multiple US agencies and other organisations which receive significant funding from the US are carrying out considerable work on climate change, clean energy, resource scarcity and green growth. USAID, which runs the Global Climate Change Initiative, argues that climate change is one of the century’s greatest challenges and will be a diplomatic and development priority. At the 41st session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) held last month a resolution on climate change was adopted which resolves to strengthen the resilience of the OAS member states to the adverse impacts of climate change. The US Special Envoy for Climate Change, Todd Stern, says that Latin America is a significant focus of funding with over US$60 million spent in 2009-10 on climate-related bilateral assistance in the region. The World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank are also investing considerable resources on these challenges. (continue reading… )

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