• <div class="header-image" style="background-image: url(/live/image/gid/4/3040_V7N1_header.rev.1549561230.jpg);"/><div class="header-background-color"/>

Growing a Global Clean Energy Economy: Clean Energy Initiatives in the Caribbean and Latin America

September 28, 2016
I am interning this summer for Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), who sits on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and who has been a leading voice on healthcare, environmental, and consumer protection policies. I have especially enjoyed getting a close-up view of the legislative process behind environmental and chemical regulation reform.

By Abbie Zislis, C’18

Recently, the Senate passed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2576), which puts more stringent chemical regulation measures into place and gives more oversight and authority to the Environmental Protection Agency by amending the outdated, four-decade-old Toxic Substances Control Act. While it has been exciting to be on the forefront to see these major reforms being made in US environmental policy, as a Political Science major concentrating in International Relations, I believe that it is important to not only establish pragmatic and responsible environmental practices at home but to also look outwards towards pursuing a global plan for environmental preservation and a clean energy economy. Specifically, it is advantageous to both US national interests and the Western hemisphere to cooperate on sustainable clean energy initiatives in the Caribbean and Latin America in order to support the growth of a global clean energy economy.

It is in the US’s best interest to cooperate with the Caribbean and Latin America on sustainable clean energy initiatives because the US’s Caribbean and Latin American neighbors are heavily dependent on Venezuelan crude oil imports. The Caribbean and Latin America’s dependency on Venezuelan crude oil imports poses a direct threat to the international energy economy. PetroCaribe, a Venezuelan oil alliance program that was formed by Venezuela’s former president, Hugo Chávez, in 2005, is the primary source of energy for 17 countries in the Caribbean and Central America, including Cuba, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica.[1] PetroCaribe provides credit financing for states to buy crude oil and petroleum from Venezuela, and, today, Venezuela exports 45,000 barrels of crude oil per day to PetroCaribe countries.[2]

However, PetroCaribe’s generous loans can be dangerous because borrowing states can incur significant debt. It is estimated that many of PetroCaribe’s members have incurred a debt to Venezuela that is 10% to 20% of their GDP.[2] For example, debt in the Dominican Republic, one of PetroCaribe’s largest recipients, reached $3.8 billion in March 2014.[2] Also, as a result of Caribbean and Latin American states’ dependence on credit-supported crude oil supplies, natural gas, renewables, and other forms of clean energy have been unable to compete.


Crude Oil and Product Deliveries 


It is critical that the Caribbean and Latin America reduce their dependency on Venezuelan crude oil and petroleum products because the country is in the middle of an economic crisis. Venezuela’s economic instability has been caused by years of economic mismanagement and irresponsible borrowing, an over-dependence on oil, and strict government price controls that have damaged businesses.[3] Venezuela’s economic mismanagement has hindered the country’s ability to repay its foreign debt—they owe about $120 billion to foreign creditors and, this year, must make a repayment of $7 billion, or it will risk defaulting on its loans.[4] Furthermore, since oil is Venezuela’s main export, it is predicted that plummeting oil prices will cause revenues to fall by 40% this year, contributing to a major part of the burgeoning economic disaster.[4] It is best for the Caribbean and Latin America to stay away from Venezuela’s volatile market because it is predicted that Venezuela’s inflation rate could reach 500% this year and 1,600% by 2017.[4]

Because the US government has notable technical expertise in clean energy development in areas such as electricity integration, off-shore oil spill preparedness, and clean energy distribution, it should provide support to its Caribbean and Latin American neighbors in promoting energy efficiency, resiliency, and access.[5] One way for the US to provide assistance is to use multilateral financial institutions, such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and US government agencies, such as the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to establish national and regional clean energy partnerships. For example, USAID, the State Department, the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) collaborate to support the Clean Energy Finance Facility for the Caribbean and Central America (CEFF-CCA), a financing program that is aimed at private-sector clean energy development and that has provided over $20 million in grants to early-stage energy project development in the Caribbean and Central America.[6] Partnerships that work on innovative clean energy approaches in addition to competitive Caribbean and Latin American private sector and pro-business reforms to boost investment in clean energy infrastructure can contribute to healthy economic growth for the entire region.

With help from multilateral financial institutions and US government agencies, Latin America and the Caribbean can take steps towards diversifying their energy supplies, can migrate away from the use of inefficient, costly, and polluting fuels, and can reduce dependency on corrupt and volatile Venezuelan markets. By helping to support the growth of a clean energy economy in Latin America, the US will contribute to sustainable economic, environmental, and energy security benefits.



   [1] “PetroCaribe and the Caribbean: Single Point of Failure,” The Economist, October 4, 2014. [Online],

Available: http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21621845-venezuelas-financing-programme-leaves-many-caribbean-countries-vulnerable-single-point

   [2] D. Goldwyn and C. Gill, “Uncertain Energy: The Caribbean’s Gamble with Venezuela,” Atlantic Council: Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, July 2014. [Online],

Available: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/images/files/Petrocaribe_RDO_18.pdf

   [3] N. Casey and P. Torres, “Venezuela Drifts Into New Territory: Hunger, Blackouts, and Government Shutdown,” New York Times, May 28, 2016. [Online],

Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/28/world/americas/venezuela-economic-government-collapse.html?action=click&contentCollection=Americas&module=RelatedCoverage&region=EndOfArticle&pgtype=article

   [4] R. Gladstone, “How Venezuela Fell into Crisis, and What Could Happen Next,” New York Times, May 27, 2016. [Online],

Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/28/world/americas/venezuela-crisis-what-next.html

   [5] “Report from the Task Force on U.S., Caribbean, and Central American Energy Security,” U.S. Department of State, May 4, 2016, [Online],

Available: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/257058.pdf

   [6] “Clean Energy Finance Facility for the Caribbean and Central America: Catalyzing Investment in Central American and Caribbean Clean Energy Solutions,” U.S. Trade and Development Agency, [Online],

Available: https://www.ustda.gov/sites/default/files/ceffcca/CEFF-CCA-Fact-Sheet.pdf

Student Blog Disclaimer
  • The views expressed on the Student Blog are the author’s opinions and don’t necessarily represent the Wharton Public Policy Initiative’s strategies, recommendations, or opinions.


  • <h3>Congressional Budget Office</h3><p><img width="180" height="180" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/180/380_cbo-logo.rev.1406822035.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image380 lw_align_right" data-max-w="180" data-max-h="180"/>Since its founding in 1974, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has produced independent analyses of budgetary and economic issues to support the Congressional budget process.</p><p> The agency is strictly nonpartisan and conducts objective, impartial analysis, which is evident in each of the dozens of reports and hundreds of cost estimates that its economists and policy analysts produce each year. CBO does not make policy recommendations, and each report and cost estimate discloses the agency’s assumptions and methodologies. <strong>CBO provides budgetary and economic information in a variety of ways and at various points in the legislative process.</strong> Products include baseline budget projections and economic forecasts, analysis of the President’s budget, cost estimates, analysis of federal mandates, working papers, and more.</p><p> Quick link to Products page: <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/about/our-products" target="_blank">http://www.cbo.gov/about/our-products</a></p><p> Quick link to Topics: <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/topics" target="_blank">http://www.cbo.gov/topics</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>MapStats</h3><p> A feature of FedStats, MapStats allows users to search for <strong>state, county, city, congressional district, or Federal judicial district data</strong> (demographic, economic, and geographic).</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.fedstats.gov/mapstats/" target="_blank">http://www.fedstats.gov/mapstats/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>National Bureau of Economic Research (Public Use Data Archive)</h3><p><img width="180" height="43" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/43/478_nber.rev.1407530465.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image478 lw_align_right" data-max-w="329" data-max-h="79"/>Founded in 1920, the <strong>National Bureau of Economic Research</strong> is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works. The NBER is committed to undertaking and disseminating unbiased economic research among public policymakers, business professionals, and the academic community.</p><p> Quick Link to <strong>Public Use Data Archive</strong>: <a href="http://www.nber.org/data/" target="_blank">http://www.nber.org/data/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>HUD State of the Cities Data Systems</h3><p><strong><img width="200" height="200" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image482 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg 3x" data-max-w="612" data-max-h="613"/>The SOCDS provides data for individual Metropolitan Areas, Central Cities, and Suburbs.</strong> It is a portal for non-national data made available through a number of outside institutions (e.g. Census, BLS, FBI and others).</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/socds.html" target="_blank">http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/socds.html</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>USDA Nutrition Assistance Data</h3><p><img width="180" height="124" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image485 lw_align_right" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1233" data-max-h="850"/>Data and research regarding the following <strong>USDA Nutrition Assistance</strong> programs are available through this site:</p><ul><li>Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) </li><li>Food Distribution Programs </li><li>School Meals </li><li>Women, Infants and Children </li></ul><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.fns.usda.gov/data-and-statistics" target="_blank">http://www.fns.usda.gov/data-and-statistics</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>The Penn World Table</h3><p> The Penn World Table provides purchasing power parity and national income accounts converted to international prices for 189 countries/territories for some or all of the years 1950-2010.</p><p><a href="https://pwt.sas.upenn.edu/php_site/pwt71/pwt71_form.php" target="_blank">Quick link.</a> </p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>NOAA National Climatic Data Center</h3><p><img width="200" height="198" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image483 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg 3x" data-max-w="954" data-max-h="945"/>NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is responsible for preserving, monitoring, assessing, and providing public access to the Nation’s treasure of <strong>climate and historical weather data and information</strong>.</p><p> Quick link to home page: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/" target="_blank">http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/</a></p><p> Quick link to NCDC’s climate and weather datasets, products, and various web pages and resources: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/quick-links" target="_blank">http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/quick-links</a></p><p> Quick link to Text & Map Search: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/" target="_blank">http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Federal Aviation Administration: Accident & Incident Data</h3><p><img width="100" height="100" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image80 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg 3x" data-max-w="550" data-max-h="550"/>The NTSB issues an accident report following each investigation. These reports are available online for reports issued since 1996, with older reports coming online soon. The reports listing is sortable by the event date, report date, city, and state.</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.faa.gov/data_research/accident_incident/" target="_blank">http://www.faa.gov/data_research/accident_incident/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>The World Bank Data (U.S.)</h3><p><img width="130" height="118" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image484 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1406" data-max-h="1275"/>The <strong>World Bank</strong> provides World Development Indicators, Surveys, and data on Finances and Climate Change.</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://data.worldbank.org/country/united-states" target="_blank">http://data.worldbank.org/country/united-states</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>National Center for Education Statistics</h3><p><strong><img width="400" height="80" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/400/height/80/479_nces.rev.1407787656.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image479 lw_align_right" data-max-w="400" data-max-h="80"/>The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations.</strong> NCES is located within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. NCES has an extensive Statistical Standards Program that consults and advises on methodological and statistical aspects involved in the design, collection, and analysis of data collections in the Center. To learn more about the NCES, <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/about/" target="_blank">click here</a>.</p><p> Quick link to NCES Data Tools: <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/datatools/index.asp?DataToolSectionID=4" target="_blank">http://nces.ed.gov/datatools/index.asp?DataToolSectionID=4</a></p><p> Quick link to Quick Tables and Figures: <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/quicktables/" target="_blank">http://nces.ed.gov/quicktables/</a></p><p> Quick link to NCES Fast Facts (Note: The primary purpose of the Fast Facts website is to provide users with concise information on a range of educational issues, from early childhood to adult learning.): <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/" target="_blank">http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/#</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED®)</h3><p><strong><img width="180" height="79" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/79/481_fred-logo.rev.1407788243.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image481 lw_align_right" data-max-w="222" data-max-h="97"/>An online database consisting of more than 72,000 economic data time series from 54 national, international, public, and private sources.</strong> FRED®, created and maintained by Research Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, goes far beyond simply providing data: It combines data with a powerful mix of tools that help the user understand, interact with, display, and disseminate the data.</p><p> Quick link to data page: <a href="http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/tags/series" target="_blank">http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/tags/series</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Internal Revenue Service: Tax Statistics</h3><p><img width="155" height="200" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/155/height/200/486_irs_logo.rev.1407789424.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image486 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/155/height/200/486_irs_logo.rev.1407789424.jpg 2x" data-max-w="463" data-max-h="596"/>Find statistics on business tax, individual tax, charitable and exempt organizations, IRS operations and budget, and income (SOI), as well as statistics by form, products, publications, papers, and other IRS data.</p><p> Quick link to <strong>Tax Statistics, where you will find a wide range of tables, articles, and data</strong> that describe and measure elements of the U.S. tax system: <a href="http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Stats-2" target="_blank">http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Stats-2</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>