October 22, 2013

In commemoration of World Energy Day and recognizing the importance of universal energy access to benefit all, President Obama has proclaimed October as National Energy Action Month, calling on each of us “to recognize this month by working together to achieve greater energy security, a more robust economy, and a healthier environment for our children.” Energy is the lifeblood of every economy in the world and connects us through global markets, clean energy technology, and communication.

We are in the midst of a global energy revolution. For the first time, energy demand is being led by developing countries outside of the OECD. We are also seeing a revolution in supply, led by the development of unconventional energy here in North America. These shifts are having a remarkable impact on the world’s energy landscape. The energy sector in the United States is going through a renaissance as new technologies and innovations shape the market. The United States is becoming much more energy self-sufficient, due to a dramatic increase in the production of clean natural gas, advancements in energy efficiency, and new investments in renewables and nuclear power. Smart grids are managing urban electric markets more effectively than ever; American oil imports are at their lowest level in 20 years; and this year we will become the world’s largest oil and gas producer. Despite growing self-sufficiency, however, energy disruptions anywhere can have global economic impacts, so the United States will continue to be engaged on the important issue of energy.

In fact, we are approaching international energy diplomacy with renewed enthusiasm, working to lend our technical expertise to expand sustainable energy access in emerging economies. Just this summer, the United States announced the Power Africa initiative, a plan to double energy access in sub-Saharan Africa through new investments in infrastructure and transparent resource management. This key initiative will focus in six partner countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tanzania. Power Africa will add more than 10,000 megawatts of cleaner, more efficient electricity generation capacity. It will increase electricity access by at least 20 million new households with on-grid, mini-grid, and off-grid solutions.

We live in an interdependent global economy, with interdependent energy markets. Energy shortages, price volatility, or supply disruptions anywhere can threaten economic growth, everywhere. To manage the geopolitics of today’s energy economy, our Bureau of Energy Resources is committed to achieving sustainable energy through three core objectives:

  • The first of these is to actively engage with key international partners.
  • The second is to encourage the development of transformative new energy technologies by enabling sound, market-based, investment climates that can support alternative and renewable energy and policies that encourage energy efficiency. By promoting innovative technologies, we create an environment to help guide the global transition to a 21st-century energy economy, estimated to need up to $17 trillion in new investment by 2035.
  • We also work to balance energy and other natural resources. For example, in India, inefficient water pumps account for 25 percent of India’s energy budget. Switching to energy-efficient pumps saves energy and reduces pressure on stressed water resources in the region.
  • Finally, we seek to counter poverty and lack of development, by increasing energy access for the world’s poor. We must encourage responsible resource management, transparency, and international investment by our partner agencies and private stakeholders, which will create sustainable and economically viable solutions for developing countries to achieve universal access to modern energy services.

We are active, following the lead of Colombia, in “Connecting the Americas” (Connect 2022), a Summit of the Americas initiative that seeks to enhance energy connections in the Western Hemisphere.

We are working with partners in the Asia-Pacific region to address the problem of energy access for the estimated 387 million people there who lack access to electricity and to promote sustainable development through the U.S.-Asia-Pacific Comprehensive Energy Partnership.

And we are working globally with the United Nations on the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative, aimed at providing universal access to modern energy services by 2030, while doubling the global rate of energy efficiency and the share of renewable energy.

We will continue to work across the world on the critical issue of energy, in partnership with our friends and allies, the private sector, and civil society. So please join me in marking this National Energy Action Month by rededicating ourselves to the education and awareness of a clean and secure energy future that will fuel our economies and ensure a healthier environment for our children. Thank you.