WESTER HEMISPHERE: North American Energy Cooperation Enters a New Era

The first trilateral framework agreement on energy science and technology was inked Monday by the energy ministers for Canada, Mexico and the United States. The compact is designed to stimulate innovation and to share and help build energy capacity in all three countries.

The ministers said they will look for ways to increase cooperation on research and development and to reduce barriers to the deployment of new technologies in biofuels, gas hydrates, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, clean coal, and electricity transmission.

To further these efforts, the three countries will exchange scientific and technical personnel to participate in joint studies and projects.

In a joint pledge of support for renewable energy and sustainable technologies, the energy ministers of Canada, Mexico and the United States signed the first trilateral framework to promote innovation and to share and develop energy capacities. The three countries will increase cooperation on research and development in clean technologies — biofuels, hydrogen fuel, clean coal, gas hydrates and carbon capture — by exchanging scientific knowledge and personnel.

"Our challenge in North America is to make the use of energy compatible with economic growth and the preservation of the environment. Basic and applied scientific research, which this agreement promotes, is a key factor in overcoming this challenge successfully," said Mexican Energy Secretary Georgina Kessel. The Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn, who hosted Kessel and his U.S. counterpart, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, added: "With greater North American cooperation, all three of our nations can increase the potential return on our investments in energy science and technology."

Some of their early joint efforts have focused on standardizing energy performance for consumer and industrial products such as refrigerators and large electric motors — efforts they plan on expanding by standardizing seven more energy-using products within the next few years. The energy market between the three North American countries currently accounts for close to $150 billion in trade. The ministers announced they would cooperate the improve its effectiveness "while recognizing and fully respecting the jurisdictional authorities of each."

While the three countries' leaders had already pledged to work together to promote energy conservation and clean energy technologies in 2005, this marks the first occasion that they ink an official accord. We'll be curious to see whether such cooperation can really help usher in innovative technologies and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Cooperation on energy issues has also been a key element of discussions among the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. since 2005.

Last year in Cancun, the countries' leaders renewed their commitment to trilateral cooperation on energy conservation, clean energy technologies and bringing new energy technologies to the marketplace.

In their joint statement the energy ministers said, "The outcomes of today's meeting will demonstrate to leaders the effectiveness of cooperation by the energy ministers on energy security" in advance of the North American Leaders' Summit to be held August 20 and 21 in Montebello, Quebec."

Energy will be one of the important issues for U.S. President George W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Felipe Calderon of Mexico at their meeting in Montebello.

Via: NewsWire,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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