Kathy Eagen serves in the State Department's Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
The energy was high as the first wave of registrants entered the Washington Convention Center to get credentialed for the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference 2008. Everywhere you turn a different language is being spoken, connections are being made, ideas debated, and greetings fly as old friends meet once again on the fringes of this ministerial-level meeting.
This is the third in a series of meetings regarding the rapid deployment of renewable energy to mitigate climate change. Months of planning have finally come down to this event, three days of ministerial-level meetings, a concurrent trade show and side events. It's been a long road, but we are finally here! It's satisfying to see how the weeks of meeting, planning, and general craziness have culminated into an event with more than 5500 participants.
The State Department, USDA, EPA, Department of Interior, CEQ, Department of Energy, USAID, NASA, and others have all participated in the planning and execution of this event. If you ever have planned a large event with over 2500 expected guests, then you can imagine the chaos that reigns at the last minute! As usual, things go awry...where are the pens? Does anyone have a stapler? Our copier is broken! We lost the next Ministerial speaker!
But, what we are hoping to accomplish over the next three days should hopefully have a far reaching effect, and linger beyond whatever small crises arise. The need for renewable energy is real, and pressing, and participation in the meeting by over 100 countries shows that this is an issue shared over the world.
Whether you are a developing country looking for alternatives to expensive imported energy sources, or a developed country looking to reduce its carbon footprint, all share a common vision and commitment to look towards renewables as an alternative source of energy.
The State Department is looking towards the potential greening of our embassies overseas, from installing solar panels to low-flow water faucets. But this is hopefully just the beginning, and with the research and development that is currently underway, it gives hope that everyone around the world will continue to increase our use of renewables.