Representatives from 24 governments gathered in Washington, D.C., on July 19th for a two-day event — the Clean Energy Ministerial. The purpose of this event was to determine how best to promote a rapid acceptance and transition to clean energy. Participating countries include China, the European Commission, Russia, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Prior to closing out the session, the group announced the Global Energy Efficiency Challenge, which includes five initiatives to include energy efficiency on an international level.

One of the initiatives is geared toward buildings and the building industry. To help improve building energy efficiency, the Global Superior Energy Performance (GSEP) Partnership will work with participating pilot companies to first measure a company's energy use and then determine how to reduce energy consumption. Eight companies and one university in several sectors including the hotel industry, power generation companies, and the steel industry will focus on reducing their energy efficiency during the pilot program.

This data will then be shared with others to help create building energy efficiency best practices that are both sector-specific and those that can be used across several industries. In addition to the creation of a pilot program for building energy efficiency, a task group was also created to promote cool roof use in all industries.

The four other Global Energy Efficiency Challenge initiatives include promoting a more energy-efficient appliance lineup, several smart grid measures, an electric vehicles initiative, and capacity building for developing country policymakers.

In addition to the five Global Energy Efficiency Challenge initiatives, the Clean Energy Ministerial also set forth four Clean Energy Supply initiatives:

  • Carbon capture, use and storage
  • Solar and wind
  • Hydropower
  • Bioenergy
The final set of initiatives focus on two key segments of the global population: those without access to grid electricity and women. The Solar and LED Energy Access Program (SLED) will help those without electricity replace their fossil fuel based light sources with solar-powered LED lights. If implemented as planned, up to 5 million people could benefit from this program in the first five years.

The second segment-specific initiative focuses on women in energy. Dr. Kristina Johnson, the under secretary of Energy, will lead this Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C-3E) Women’s Initiative. This initiative will help get more women into the clean energy field. When most of today’s green jobs are in traditionally male-filled positions, initiatives like this are important to ensure that tomorrow’s clean energy economy isn’t just a man’s world. The program will focus on key skills needed to advance in the clean energy industry including science, technology, engineering and math.

This two-day event was productive, and now the participating countries have a lot on their plates as they begin to implement these initiatives. At the close of the convention, the United Arab Emirates announced that it would host the second annual Clean Energy Ministerial in 2011 and the United Kingdom would like to host a third event.

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