About the Author: Roberta Jacobson serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Canada, Mexico and NAFTA issues in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.
Today, the U.S. Department of State hosted the first bilateral meeting of the U.S.-Mexico Framework on Clean Energy and Climate Change. The Bilateral Framework establishes a mechanism for strengthening political and technical cooperation and for facilitating efforts at the federal level to develop clean energy economies. It will complement and reinforce existing work between the two countries.
When we announced the Bilateral Framework, we saw this as an exciting opportunity to make common cause with one of our strongest partners to find solutions to the urgent 21st century challenges presented by energy security and climate change.
We have much to learn from each other, and we hope today’s meeting will spark a lively exchange of views on how we can work together to ensure a sustainable future by developing clean energy economies on both sides of the border.
There are some who have dismissed the term “clean energy economies” as an oxymoron. While developing clean energy economies is not without its challenges, they are not insurmountable if we think differently and creatively. That’s what today’s dialogue is about. Collaboration between our two countries will illustrate that the adoption of green technology can be an engine of North American growth and competitiveness for the 21st century.
Joe Aldy, Special Assistant to the President for Energy and the Environment, kicked off the meeting with remarks on the importance of strong collaboration between our two countries on clean energy and climate change.
I was particularly struck by his focus on a pragmatic approach to advancing our goal for a greener future. During his opening address, Mr. Aldy said, “As we think about what our two nations can do to advance the effort to transform the way we produce and use energy-and to do so in a way that improves our security, grows our economies, and reduces the harm we are causing the planet-it is important that we are pragmatic. Being pragmatic means:
(1) Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. While we should be inspired by an ideal vision of the future, we should not handicap our near-term efforts to get there by trying to make one giant leap to perfection, when several small steps will both ensure progress in the near-term and better enable the attainment of the more ideal future.
(2) Don’t be afraid to fail. Governments are inherently risk averse. But if we don’t take some risks-if we aren’t afraid to fail-then we may fall short of the technological and policy innovations necessary to tackle the problems of energy security and climate change.
(3) Don’t forget to learn from each other. Failures and successes present lessons that can benefit us as we move forward. There are important lessons we can draw from the U.S. experience with the cap-and-trade program to reduce sulfur dioxide pollution, just as there are important lessons we can draw from the Mexican experience with Bus Rapid Transit in your capital. This venue should be one of many for us to exchange lessons learned among government officials, as well as those in business and civil society.”
Mr. Aldy’s remarks were followed by a discussion among U.S. and Mexican government officials from a variety of agencies that demonstrated that economic development and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, addressing climate change is an economic opportunity, not a burden.
When Secretary Clinton visited Mexico last year, she toured a biogas plant in Monterrey and hailed it as a model of public-private partnerships. This partnership and many others demonstrate how clean energy can create new jobs and put countries on the path to a low-carbon energy future.
As we wrapped-up the meeting, it gave me great satisfaction to know that our discussions today provided a foundation on which the United States and Mexico can build a cleaner, healthier planet for successive generations of Americans and Mexicans.