Rio+20: USA Shows Support for Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy Plan

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil – In advance of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s arrival in Rio tomorrow, the US Government released a fact sheet showing how the various arms of the Obama administration are supporting the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy For All initiative (SE4All).  In total, the United States is providing $2 billion in the form of grants, loans and loan guarantees for programs to advance the adoption of clean energy solutions in developing countries.

Here are just a few examples of what the USA is up to:

USAID/DCA:  USAID has a unique loan guarantee program called the Development Credit Authority that provides partial credit guarantees on a project or portfolio basis with local banks, municipal authorities, or private companies. DCA guarantees support USAID’s development priorities across all sectors including energy, and some specific mechanisms/windows for clean energy have been established. In 2011, DCA completed 37 transactions in 21 countries, which will result in $197 million in private capital for local loans. The leveraging impact of these guarantees on local lending was 16 to 1 in FY11.

Treasury:  The U.S. Department of Treasury is the lead USG agency in the provision of clean energy finance to multilateral climate and clean energy funds including the Clean Technology Fund and the Program for Scaling Up Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries.  The U.S. contribution to these funds in FY11 was approximately $195 million for clean energy activities.   In addition, approximately $23.4 million of the Treasury FY2011 GEF contribution went toward clean energy activities.

Sustainable Energy for All was launched by Ban Ki Moon this year with three goals: achieve universal access to modern energy by 2030; double the rate of improvement in energy efficient by 2030; and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030.

These objectives are key discussion points here at Rio–particularly in the side events. Energy, after all, is key to development. But if developing countries use carbon heavy sources of energy to power their growth, we are doomed as a planet. So, the Secretary General set these targets as a way to bring governments, NGOs and the private sector around a concrete set of goals.

It is particularly welcoming to the see the United States endorse SE4All.  As Ban Ki Moon likes to say, “You can’t have development without energy, and you can’t have sustainable development without sustainable energy.”  The fact that the State Department released this fact sheet under the SE4All rubric on the eve of Secretary Clinton’s arrival in Rio is a pretty strong demonstration of support for the Secretary General’s initiative.

In the end, these kinds of political and financial commitments to Sustainable Energy For All are the big takeaways of this conference. And when a public embrace comes from the world’s largest economy it is all the more significant.