Kicking off the New Year by Kicking Off a New Partnership

Peter Lehner gives opening remarks at LCCA announcement

On NRDC’s “report card” of President Obama’s first year in office, the list of ways his Administration has worked to restore U.S. leadership around the globe includes an important element of the President’s efforts in Latin America:  the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA).   President Obama initiated ECPA at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago last April to promote greater hemispheric cooperation on energy and climate change issues.  And yesterday, I am very pleased to write, NRDC actively participated in the latest advance of this program when Peter Lehner, Executive Director of NRDC, signed an agreement with several Costa Rican entities to establish an Energy Efficiency Center in the country’s capital, San Jose.


(photo courtesy of Casa Presidencial de Costa Rica.  Ministerio de Información.)

This agreement is part of ECPA’s Low-Carbon Communities of the Americas (LCCA) Initiative, a program organized by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to help communities in the region reduce their carbon footprints.  Wednesday’s event was the first public announcement of an LCCA-supported project, and it kicks off an exciting new year for NRDC’s international work.   You can watch a video of the press conference with Peter’s opening remarks here.

In fact, we’ve been working in Costa Rica for several years already.  The entire country is one of our BioGems, unique wild places or rare wildlife in the Americas facing a particular threat.  We’re actively engaged in reforestation projects in Costa Rica, and we’ve begun working on measures to help the country reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2021 – including partnering on the creation of this Energy Efficiency Center.

So who else is involved in the Center?  Get ready for a few more acronyms.  In addition to NRDC, the other signatories were Costa Rica’s Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (MINAET), the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), the University of Costa Rica (UCR) and the Costa Rican Petroleum Refinery (RECOPE).  The US Embassy in Costa Rica, the Minister to the Costa Rican President and the President of Costa Rica also signed the agreement as honorary witnesses.

The immediate aim of this EE Center will be to train energy efficiency professionals in energy auditing procedures.  With time, we hope to see the Center grow – either domestically, by broadening the scope of its activities, or regionally, by becoming a resource throughout Central America.  Certainly, this is no small task.  But NRDC and our new partners are committed and capable.  And we are confident. 

Not a bad way to kick off the New Year.