In March 2011, President Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff reinvigorated political and economic relations between the two countries, signing a series of preliminary agreements to establish stronger commercial ties and to enhance cooperation in areas like trade, technology, education and air travel.
Energy was also a primary issue discussed during the visit. President Obama and President Rousseff agreed that the two countries have converging interests in energy-related matters, including oil and natural gas, biofuels and other renewables. President Obama said that the United States seeks to be a strategic energy partner with Brazil.
Following his visit to Brazil, President Obama addressed the American people on the importance of a sound and sustainable energy policy, and the promise of renewable biofuels.
If anybody doubts the potential of these fuels, consider Brazil. As I said, I was just there last week. Half of Brazil’s vehicles can run on biofuels — half of their fleet of automobiles can run on biofuels instead of petroleum. Just last week, our Air Force — our own Air Force — used an advanced biofuel blend to fly a Raptor 22 — an F-22 Raptor faster than the speed of sound. Think about that.
So there’s no reason we shouldn’t be using these renewable fuels throughout America. And that’s why we’re investing in things like fueling stations and research into the next generation of biofuels.
Obama and Rousseff launched a Strategic Energy Dialogue seeking to increase cooperation and research on a wide-ranging set of energy issues with the aim of creating jobs and securing energy supplies in both countries. Both presidents praised the Working Group on Energy and the Memorandum of Understanding to Advance the Cooperation on Biofuels. They decided that their work will be carried out under the auspices of the Strategic Energy Dialogue.
Soon after President Obama returned from Brazil, a delegation of Brazilian energy officials, union leaders, and academics visited the U.S. Department of State to discuss energy issues. Luiz Antonio Rossi is from the University of Campinas.
[translated:] I think it’s a possibility for exchanging experiences mainly in technological development which, in the case of Brazil, this development is quite particular in some areas. And, notably, in the last 30 years, in my opinion as a researcher, we have made great strides in strategic areas where we were heavily dependent on foreign technology. I believe that American foreign policy has greatly improved its relationship with Brazil mainly in biofuels and also in the agricultural sector of biomass production.
We realize there’s a lot of synergy with Brazil.
Richard Simmons is with the U.S. State Department’s Office of International Energy and Commodities.
On the Brazilian side, we recognize they have a very extensive renewable energy initiative and are impressed with their energy matrix in terms of its environmentally sound portfolio of options.
The Strategic Energy Dialogue builds on the work of the U.S.-Brazil Binational Energy Working Group. The Dialogue and resulting partnerships between the two largest democracies and economies in the Americas will create jobs in both countries, make energy supplies more secure, and help address the challenge of climate change.
We have three pillars of cooperation. There’s bilateral R&D, where there’s a scientific exchange on technology, particularly related to advanced biofuels. There’s a trilateral component, where we reach out to third countries, the U.S. and Brazil, other countries that want to develop policies and capacity. And then there’s a multilateral aspect where we cooperate in international fora.
In addition to job creation and energy security, the movement toward a low-carbon future is a key goal of the U.S.-Brazil Strategic Energy Dialogue. Sustainability concerns not only the issue of climate change, but economic and social issues as well. Marcelo Guerra is the Superintendent of SINDACUCAR, the Union for the Sugar and Ethanol Industry of Pernambuco.
[translated:] The sugar-ethanol sector in Brazil is extremely important, it’s strategic because it involves industry, agriculture, trade, logistics, so we have around 1 million people directly involved in this activity very responsibly. So it is really a strategic sector because we produce food, fuel and produce renewable energy.
The U.S. is looking much more closely at sustainable development. We realize that the current situation and growth rate for energy from fossil fuels is not sustainable. Brazil has taken very proactive steps toward integrating tangible sustainable development programs in their own approach. It’s going to increasingly play a role. You’re seeing it when we begin projects, not after the fact now. It can’t be a separate topic. It’s got to be integrated in the way you approach something from the beginning. You know, when you design something is the time to be discussing the materials that you’re using, where they’re coming from, their footprint, and the lifecycle. It’s being factored in into the strategy and that’s an important indication of progress.
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