Accelerating the Transition to Renewable Energy Technologies

I’ve just arrived in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for the second Clean Energy Ministerial. I’m excited to be here for the next step in this new global process to accelerate the transition to renewable energy technologies, launched by Secretary Chu last July in Washington. At that inaugural Clean Energy Ministerial, ministers and high-level representatives from 24 countries launched 11 initiatives that cover a range of technologies, including energy efficient buildings and appliances, renewable energy sources, electric vehicles and smart grids.

But that was just the start.

Over the last eight months, we’ve been working closely with our partners to make sure these initiatives live up to their ambitious goals. Those goals include avoiding the need to build 500 mid-size power plants over the next 20 years and helping 10 million of the world’s poorest citizens get access to solar power lighting by 2015. Now we are meeting to make sure we’re on track, to renew our support for these efforts and to move forward in important new ways.

For example, we’re announcing a Global Efficiency Awards program that will recognize the most efficient televisions in the global market. We’re announcing new programs to promote “cool roofs,” which reflect the sun’s rays and are a simple, cheap and effective way to reduce energy use in buildings.

This meeting is about more than governments working together – the role of the private sector and NGOs will be central. A series of stakeholder roundtables will feed into the ministerial discussions, with topics like energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable cities. Each of these will be co-chaired by ministers and high-level private sector and NGO representatives, including Secretary Chu.

I’m also looking forward to a high-level public forum on “The Role of Women in the Clean Energy Revolution.” This event will feature four female ministers and eight distinguished panelists from clean energy-related fields, who will participate in conversations about policies and programs to enhance women’s leadership on clean energy around the world.

Countries represented at the Clean Energy Ministerial account for more than 70 percent of global GDP and 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The actions these nations take in the coming years will make a real difference to the health of the planet and the lives of its citizens. Seizing this opportunity to drive global progress on clean energy is critical to our future. So it’s a great privilege to be here, and I look forward to telling you about our progress after the meeting.

By David Sandalow, Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs,