Energy Diplomacy in the 21st Century

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Public Affairs
November 8, 2012


“Energy cuts across the entirety of U.S. foreign policy. It’s a matter of national security and global stability. It’s at the heart of the global economy. It’s also an issue of democracy and human rights.”                                

– Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Energy is at the intersection of national security and economic prosperity. The Department of State’s efforts in bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, economic statecraft, security, and development are widely affected by energy concerns. Secretary Clinton created the Bureau of Energy Resources in 2011 to integrate energy security interests into foreign policy decision making, putting energy diplomacy at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy. We are working to advance U.S. energy policy goals along three main pillars:

Energy Diplomacy

To meet the need for the traditional hydrocarbon resources we predominantly rely upon today, and to manage the implications those resources have on national wealth and geopolitical power and influence, we:

  • Promote a stable global energy supply supply by engaging diplomatic partners and private producers to maintain supply, calm markets, and pursue alternative energy options. This includes extensive diplomatic efforts to maintain global oil supplies in the context of implementing sanctions on Iran, as well as coordinating with our diplomatic partners the effective implementation of sanctions, particularly on petroleum and petroleum products.
  • Continue to strengthen energy diplomacy efforts with new and emerging producers of all forms of energy by supporting the development of energy resources and transportation options.
  • Engage through international fora to build broad agreements on policies to boost global energy security.

Energy Transformation

To aid in the development of international markets that drive private demand and finance for the technologies and fuels that will transform the ways nations use and produce energy, we:

  • Encourage regional approaches to transmission grid interconnection and market development to help create larger markets, enhance system reliability and energy efficiency, and facilitate the integration and trade of electricity from renewable technologies.
  • Create an enabling environment for U.S. companies to provide the technology, innovation, and capital to help guide the global transition to a twenty-first century energy economy estimated at $20 trillion in value.
  • Lead international efforts on energy transformation and clean energy, for example by working within the International Renewable Energy Agency to promote dissemination of renewable energy technologies and adoption of best practices.

Examples of Energy Diplomacy in Action

There is a wide array of initiatives and practices underway that illustrate our focus on energy issues. Examples include:

Sustainable Energy for All (SEA4ALL): The United States is a key participant in the UN Secretary-General’s SE4ALL initiative, which aims to provide by 2030 universal access to modern energy service while doubling the global rate of energy efficiency improvements and the share of renewable energy.

Connecting the Americas 2022: This Presidential initiative seeks to enhance electrical interconnections across the Western Hemisphere to achieve universal access over the next decade for the more than 31 million people without electricity.

Energy Governance and Access

To counter poverty and lack of development resulting from a lack of access to energy, poor resource management, or both, we:

  • Encourage responsible resource management by sharing best practices for sound, transparent energy sector governance, including development of technical understanding, transparent and accountable legal and regulatory regimes, financial management, and health, safety, and environmental practices in line with international standards.
  • Expand energy access through economic statecraft and partnerships with development agencies to help encourage creation of commercially viable models backed by private investment.