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Clean Energy Ministerial: Join the Discussion

David Sandalow, Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs at the Department of Energy, takes your questions and comments on the world's first Clean Energy Ministerial.

Ed. Note: Cross-posted from the brand new Energy Blog.  Also check out the Department of Energy's new Facebook and Twitter accounts launched today.

Today marks the second and final day of the world’s first Clean Energy Ministerial. We want you to be part of it. That’s why we’re webcasting all of today’s proceedings as they happen, so you can observe and weigh in on the discussion. Watch it live from 10am to 5pm today. As you watch, we invite you to submit your questions and comments directly via:

I'll personally follow-up with answers to some of the most popular questions.

Ministers from 23 countries are participating in the Clean Energy Ministerial. These countries use more than 80% of the world’s energy and represent a similar percentage of the world’s market for clean energy technologies.

I’m delighted to report that we’ve already taken big steps forward at this meeting. The initiatives launched today will avoid the need to build more than 500 mid-sized power plants in the next 20 years, promote the rapid deployment of electric vehicles, support the growing global market for renewable energy and carbon capture technologies, bring solar lanterns to more than 10 million people by 2015, and help encourage young women to pursue careers in clean energy.

And one thing is already clear from the discussions: the clean energy revolution is happening now. Around the world, countries are moving forward to deploy clean energy technologies at a record pace and with high-level commitment.

China is investing heavily in electric vehicles. Last year, Germany installed over four times more solar PV than the US did. India just announced a major new energy efficiency program. Japan – long a leader in energy efficiency – gets many more dollars of GDP per unit of energy than the U.S. does. Denmark gets nearly 20% of its electricity from wind, compared to less than 2% in the US.

This raises a question: Will the United States help lead the clean energy revolution n the decades ahead? I believe we can. I believe we must.

Energy efficiency lies at the heart of the clean energy revolution. Today at the Clean Energy Ministerial, Secretary Chu and other ministers from around the world launched the Global Energy Efficiency Challenge. Through four initiatives -- targeting appliances, buildings and industry, electric vehicles, and smart grids -- the Challenge will avoid the equivalent of more than 500 mid-size power plants by 2030. The Ministerial also spurred the launch of initiatives on solar, wind, bioenergy, electric vehicles and carbon capture and storage.

The clean energy revolution will need all of humanity in order to succeed. To help the 1.6 billion people who don’t have any access to electricity, the U.S., Italy and International Finance Corporation (IFC) are working together on the Solar and LED Energy Access Program, which seeks to scale up the global market for high-quality off-grid appliances to connect rural villagers to lighting and communications technology. DOE Undersecretary Kristina Johnson, an electrical engineer with 45 patents, is leading by example with an initiative to support young women pursuing careers in clean energy.

When Secretary Chu decided to host the first-ever Clean Energy Ministerial, he told me he wasn’t interested in bringing ministers together just to talk -- he only wanted to host a meeting if it would lead to action with measurable results. You can hear more about those actions by watching the second day of the ministerial on our live webcast and submitting your questions on Twitter (hashtag #CEM), Facebook or via e-mail. With the initiatives launched today, the Clean Energy Ministerial process is on track to becoming a model of successful global cooperation on a defining issue of our time.

David Sandalow is Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs at the Department of Energy