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Green Diplomacy: Environmental Diplomacy in Europe

U.S. State Department
Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Washington, DC


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In This Issue:


U.S.–European Cooperation to Address Climate Change

From left: German Chancellor Merkel,  President Bush, and European  Commission President Barroso at a joint press conference at the U.S.-EU  Summit, April 30, 2007. [White House photo by Eric Draper]
From left: German Chancellor Merkel,  President Bush, and European  Commission President Barroso at a joint press conference at the U.S.-EU  Summit, April 30, 2007. [White House photo by Eric Draper]

The U.S. and Europe both recognize climate change as a serious challenge and share a common goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Both are committed to negotiating a new post-2012 climate change framework under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change by the end of 2009 and working with all international partners, including the major economies, to reach agreement on this post-2012 framework. During the April 2007 U.S.- EU Summit in Washington, the leaders agreed to a series of commitments to ensure secure, affordable, and clean supplies of energy, while tackling climate change. Starting in 2006 a series of working groups on biofuels and energy efficiency have been held to help advance work on common biofuel standards and efficiency measures like Energy Star. The U.S. and EU are also engaging bilaterally on nearly every policy level; centerpieces are the U.S.-EU Strategic Energy Review and the High-Level Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development, which met most recently on March 3 and March 7, 2008, respectively.


 


U.S.–EU: Multilateral Partnership

Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky gives remarks at WIREC, March 2008. [State Department photo]
Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky gives remarks at WIREC, March 2008. [State Department photo]

The U.S. and EU work together multilaterally as well. The President launched the Major Economies Process, in which the EU and several European countries have participated, in May 2007, as a way to support and accelerate the UN process. When 17 economies, representing 80 percent of the world’s economy and 80 percent of the world’s emissions gather together, they can make a significant contribution to the UN talks. Another example of productive multilateral cooperation is the Methane-to-Markets partnership – an international effort to promote methane recovery and its use as a clean source of energy. European countries played an important role at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) which brought together over 6,000 government officials, private sector representatives and NGOs from around the world to advance development of renewable energy technologies.

 


The Energy Independence and Security Act

The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 improves vehicle fuel economy and increases alternative fuels. The Renewable Fuels Mandate will increase the use of renewable fuels by 500% while the Vehicle Fuel Economy Mandate specifies a national mandatory fuel economy standard of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, which will save billions of gallons of fuel and increase efficiency by 40%. Additionally, the Act advances the following efficiencies: The Lighting Efficiency Mandate will phase out the use of incandescent light bulbs by 2014 and improve lighting efficiency by more than 70% by 2020; The Appliance Efficiency Mandate sets over 45 new standards for appliances; and The Federal Government Operations Mandate will reduce the energy consumption of Federal Government facilities 30% by 2015. Additionally, all new Federal buildings will be carbon-neutral by 2030.


Cyprus: USAID Environmental Initiatives

The Clean Energy Group working on a model power system, February 2008. [Photo by SAVE]
The Clean Energy Group working on a model power system, February 2008. [Photo by SAVE] 

Two United States Agency for International Development (USAID) initiatives have made great strides in environmental awareness in Cyprus. The USAID-supported “Supporting Activities that Value the Environment” (SAVE) small grants program is designed to support local groups with innovative ideas that help further SAVE's overall objective to protect and promote the island's natural and cultural heritage resources. SAVE is aimed at improving the conditions that will foster a durable Cyprus settlement, including encouraging responsible economic growth and sound environmental management. Just recently, SAVE awarded a grant to the Clean Energy Group--a band of dedicated high-school students and their teachers to start work on constructing a model power system for their school work-shop. The system will generate electricity using only wind and solar energy and is providing the students and teachers with hands-on experience installing and applying these new and energy-saving technologies. The USAID-supported and International Management Consulting firm, Core International-implemented “Resource Efficiency Achievement Project” (REAP) is dedicated to helping businesses become more profitable by increasing energy efficiency, enhancing environmental management, upgrading facility operations and improving equipment performance. REAP provided technical assistance and support to the Energy Professionals' Association (EPA) to hold an event to announce the launch of their new website: (http://www.escocyprus.com/epa/index.aspx). The event also celebrated the official registration of the Energy Professionals' Association as a civil society organization of the Turkish Cypriot Community (TCC).


Bulgaria: California's Efforts to Fight Climate Change Highlighted

Reporter Irina Alexieva reports on  California’s climate change initiatives on bTV, January 2008.
Reporter Irina Alexieva reports on  California’s climate change initiatives on bTV, January 2008.

Bulgaria's largest private television network, bTV, broadcast a two-part documentary describing California's efforts in the fight against climate change. Reporter Irina Alexieva traveled to California on a grant funded by the U.S. Embassy in Sofia and explained a variety of energy efficient techniques that are in use throughout the state, including solar power, wind power, and the use of more efficient technology, such as light bulbs. Not only did this program demonstrate that the United States is a leader in environmental issues, it also provided Bulgarians with tangible examples of how their country could seek to improve energy efficiency as well.

 


Italy: Green Building Standards Promoted

U.S. Speaker Maureen Guttman,  February 2008. [John Rogers, U.S.  Embassy Rome]
U.S. Speaker Maureen Guttman,  February 2008. [John Rogers, U.S.  Embassy Rome]

U.S. Speaker Maureen Guttman, Executive Director of the Governor of Pennsylvania’s Green Government Council, spoke in Vicenza, Italy to local architects and engineers about the green building movement in the United States, and the emergence of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building standards. The new base at Dal Molin will be built to LEED Silver Standard. Ms. Guttman also spoke with leading Milan-based government officials and university professors about the activities of her office and the usefulness of LEED as a national bio-architecture design standard. During a lunch she then continued the discussion with representatives of Milan Polytechnic University and the Lombardy Region Environmental Protection Agency, as well as non-governmental organizations that build houses for the poor.


 France: U.S. Environmental Initiatives Showcased

Wilfred Muskens, Jean-Pierre Giboz,Yannick  Vissouze, Communaute Urbaine de Dunkerque,  Luke Ravenstahl, Sylvie Vacheret, Maureen Guttman, Everett Wakai, Feb. 2008. [A. Beullard, U.S. Consulate Lyon]
Wilfred Muskens, Jean-Pierre Giboz,Yannick  Vissouze, Communaute Urbaine de Dunkerque,  Luke Ravenstahl, Sylvie Vacheret, Maureen Guttman, Everett Wakai, February 2008. [A. Beullard, U.S. Consulate Lyon]
The U.S. Embassy in Paris and the U.S. Consulate in Lyon worked with French and American city officials to organize a program showing environmental initiatives on the state and city level. As part of the program, architect Maureen Guttman, who is presently the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Green Government Council gave a successful series of conferences on environmental issues and climate change in Paris, Lyon, and Dunkirk. At various conferences Ms. Guttman spoke on the role of states in devising and implementing environmental policies and the latest green buildings built in the United States. She also had meetings with the organizers of the two French commercial shows on pollution and renewable energies. In all, she reached an audience of over 800. The Embassy staff also organized the visit of Luke Ravenstahl, Mayor of Pittsburgh and the youngest American mayor of a major city. Mayor Ravenstahl gave a major speech during the last session of a three day colloquium on local energy issues. In Paris, the U.S. Embassy organized a meeting with the chief of staff of the French Minister of Ecology and Sustainable Development, a roundtable with French industry leaders and bankers as well as a lecture for an audience of approximately 100 people on the renaissance of Pittsburgh.


Denmark: U.S. Ambassador Out Front on Climate Change

Image of newspapers
Back-to-back op-eds by U.S. Ambassador to Denmark James P. Cain set the Danish media agenda on climate change and renewable energy. The first piece in Denmark's leading national business daily Børsen on March 12 noted recent technological advances have "put the world on an exciting path that reaches beyond national borders." The second op-ed in national daily Politiken on March 19 responded to an op-ed by a former Danish Minister of the Environment criticizing U.S. climate change policy. In this response, Ambassador Cain stressed the groundbreaking U.S. initiatives outlined in the 2008 Energy Act and noted that transatlantic squabbling would give countries such as China, India, Brazil and Russia an excuse to do nothing. Ambassador Cain noted, "Europe should declare victory. Now let's get on the same team, and get an agreement in Copenhagen next year."


Sweden: Ambassador’s Renewable Energy Initiative Highlighted

Ambassador Wood learns about passive houses, March 17, 2008. [Hanna Waluszewski, U.S. Embassy Stockholm]
Ambassador Wood learns about passive houses, March 17, 2008. [Hanna Waluszewski, U.S. Embassy Stockholm]

Swedish news media have adopted an open-minded, more positive attitude towards the U.S. Government’s environmental and energy policies because of the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm’s emphasis on renewable-energy cooperation between the United States and Sweden. U.S. Ambassador to Sweden Michael Wood spoke at the "Innovations for a Sustainable Economy" conference organized by the Swedish Environmental Institute and the Worldwatch Institute. The Worldwatch Institute provides information on how to build a sustainable society. The conference celebrated the Swedish launch of the latest Worldwatch publication, "State of the World 2008: Innovations for a Sustainable Economy." The Ambassador's remarks focused on research and development of alternative energy in the U.S., recent changes in energy policy and U.S. commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Ambassador also participated in a press showing of the first so-called "passive houses" in the Stockholm area to see if there were ideas of interest to the United States.


Hungary: U.S. Ambassador Broadens Dialogue on Commerce and Environment

Ambassador Foley speaks with students at  Tatabanyas College of Modern Business Studies.  Rector Kocsik moderates, February 19, 2008. [Attila Nemeth, U. S. Embassy Budapest]
Ambassador Foley speaks with students at  Tatabanyas College of Modern Business Studies.  Rector Kocsik moderates, February 19, 2008. [Attila Nemeth, U. S. Embassy Budapest]

U.S. Ambassador to Hungary April Foley visited an area of western Hungary successfully recovering from the loss of mining industries to learn more about how they attract new business and protect the environment. In the city of Tatabanya, she met first with faculty and students at the new and growing College of Modern Business Studies. The Ambassador was also briefed by Tatabanya's “Climate Group,” a grass roots environmental protection initiative, on its comprehensive municipal strategy of education and action to reduce carbon emissions and conserve energy. This unique program, which brings together stakeholders from all sectors of the city, is now under study for use in Anchorage, Alaska. In turn, the Ambassador briefed the group on President Bush's initiatives in these fields as well as the practical steps that the U.S. Embassy in Budapest has taken to reduce the carbon footprint and recycle. Finally, at Zoltek Corporation the Ambassador gained a first-hand understanding of carbon fiber production and the growing market for this light, but durable composite used in everything from sporting goods to airframes.


Bulgaria: Strengthening U.S. Investment In Future Technologies

Ambassador Beyrle and local officials learn about the AES Corp. power plant on their tour of the facility, May 2008. [Plamen Ivanov, U.S. Embassy Sofia]
Ambassador Beyrle and local officials learn about the AES Corp. power plant on their tour of the facility, May 2008. [Plamen Ivanov, U.S. Embassy Sofia]

Ambassador Beyrle and several leading Bulgarian local officials celebrated the recent completion of the single-largest foreign investment project in Bulgaria. AES Corp.'s Boiler One at the Maritza East One power facility in central Bulgaria will help Bulgaria comply with EU environmental standards and will serve as an example for other American investors seeking investment opportunities in Bulgaria. The Ambassador has lauded the Bulgarian firms that are marching in step with a new greener consciousness. In the past the Ambassador Beyrle has highlighted the many ways American investment is promoting a greener Bulgaria: from wind farms using new U.S. technology, complete with radar and slower turbines to protect migrating birds, to United States Agency for International Development’s planting of thousands of trees after fires ravaged the Bulgarian countryside over the summer. (A total of 50,000 seedlings will be planted over the coming to year to help Bulgaria recover from fires that ravaged the countryside in 2006.). Ambassador Beyrle also advocated the need for Bulgarian legislative reforms to allow for more plant-based genetic research to increase food production.


Austria: Austrians Celebrate Earth Day with U.S. Clean Air Expert

A packed auditorium listens to EPA expert Sam Napolitano, April 21-25, 2008. [Erwin Giedenbacher, U.S. Embassy Vienna]
A packed auditorium listens to EPA expert Sam Napolitano, April 21-25, 2008. [Erwin Giedenbacher, U.S. Embassy Vienna]

Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Division Director Sam Napolitano visited Austria for a one-week speaker program. He addressed students at the Vienna Modul University and the University of Innsbruck, Tyrol. He explained U.S. clean air and climate change policies at a panel discussion with EU and Austrian experts, co-hosted by the Styrian provincial government in the city of Graz. He also discussed U.S. environment programs with Austrian government officials. The lively discussions and question and answers underscored Austrians' deep interest in U.S. clean air and climate change policies.


Malta: U.S. Expert on Climate Change

Catherine Witherspoon discusses air pollution with students, April 2008. [Cynthia Ehrlich, U.S. Embassy Valletta]
Catherine Witherspoon discusses air pollution with students, April 2008. [Cynthia Ehrlich, U.S. Embassy Valletta]

U.S. climate change expert Catherine Witherspoon participated in a three-day program in Malta thanks to the U.S. Government's Strategic Speaker Initiative program. Ms. Witherspoon addressed the topic of air pollution which is of great concern to the Maltese government and population because of vehicle emissions. Ms. Witherspoon had important discussions with the Maltese Minister of Resources and Rural Affairs, with several non-governmental organizations actively involved in environmental issues and with leading local physicians who are researching respiratory problems caused by air pollution. Ms. Witherspoon gave a number of public talks to University students, the Junior College and to the general public. The Minister of Resources and Rural Affairs also attended the public lecture, together with several environmentalists, leading to a very animated debate on the importance of addressing the problems created by air pollution.


Slovakia: Embassy Officers Speak About U.S. Actions To Halt Global Warming

Political Officer Aaron Chase poses with students who turned out for his Earth Day discussion, April 22, 2008. [Aaron Chase, U.S. Embassy Bratislava]
Political Officer Aaron Chase poses with students who turned out for his Earth Day discussion, April 22, 2008. [Aaron Chase, U.S. Embassy Bratislava]

Nearly one-third of the U.S. Embassy in Bratislava’s officers left their desks on April 22 to speak to secondary school students in every region of the Slovak Republic about the U.S. policy on global warming and other environmental issues. In all, sixteen high schools were visited and nearly 1,000 Slovak students had the opportunity to discuss their most urgent questions about the United States directly with an American speaker. In the Earth Day discussions, officers spoke about how the U.S. recognizes the impact of human activity on the planet and American efforts to cut emissions of green house gases. At a high school in Tranovsky in Liptovsky Mikulas, senior students presented their own videos and musical performance, in English, about the damage caused to the environment by wars and transportation.


Sweden: California-Sweden Group on Renewable Fuels

Jim Boyd ,right, speaks with the Archbishop of Sweden, Anders Wejryd, November 2007. [Robert Hilton, U.S. Embassy Stockholm]
Jim Boyd (right) speaks with the Archbishop of Sweden, Anders Wejryd, November 2007. [Robert Hilton, U.S. Embassy Stockholm]

In an important visit to Sweden, James Boyd, Vice Chairman of the California Energy Commission urged the establishment of a California-Sweden working group to expand use of renewable fuels. Mr. Boyd, who came to Stockholm at the invitation of the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm and the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise also met with Swedish Minister of Foreign Trade Eva Björling, two Swedish State Secretaries to the Minister of Enterprise, Energy and Communications and the Prime Minister of Sweden. Meetings were also held with energy experts from local government, industry representatives, and a newspaper journalist. Mr. Boyd said that California has become a global leader in reducing greenhouse gases because of specific policy and technology steps taken by the state government but that California is also interested in learning from Sweden's public awareness efforts.


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