The Foreign Service Journal - July/August 2017
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A foreign affairs practitioner offers a ground-level guide to changing the world,

one clean energy market at a time.

Jason Donovan directs the State Department’s Office

of Multilateral and Global Affairs. During 18 years

in the Foreign Service, he has served in Guatemala,

Italy, Malaysia, India and Washington, D.C. The

views expressed here are the author’s and not necessarily those

of the U.S. government.


imagine just about every reader of

The Foreign Service


has a personal conception of diplomacy. Over

18 years in the Foreign Service, I’ve come to see it as

a process that begins with respecting the aspirations

of nations on their own terms, visualizes where they

could go in partnership with the United States and

then mobilizes them toward realizing that vision.

To illustrate this process, I’d like to offer an example

from the Economic Section of Embassy New Delhi,

where from 2009 to 2012 I was responsible for the bilateral energy


India has 1.3 billion people, some 400 million of whom lack

any source of electricity. Hundreds of millions more have only

sporadic access to energy. In 2009 the country’s objective was

first and foremost to increase energy production and access,

and only secondarily to maximize energy efficiency and clean

energy use. Could India leapfrog over the dirtiest forms of energy

to meet a significant part of its vast energy needs using clean


From the United States’ vantage point, clean energy repre-

sented one of the new Obama administration’s top three policy

priorities. The idea was to push the envelope in developing

cost-effective clean energy, while capitalizing on the boom in

natural gas as a bridge fuel frommore- to less-polluting forms of

power generation. Could Washington’s pursuit of a clean energy

economy also help secure low-carbon, sustainable economic

growth for partners like India?

To chart the confluence of these distinct aspirations and

catalyze efforts to realize them, in 2009 New Delhi and Washing-

ton worked together to create the Partnership to Advance Clean

Energy. Over the past eight years, PACE has helped create a $4

billion bilateral clean energy market and facilitated multifaceted

cooperation in developing clean energy and fighting climate


Establishing Ground Rules for Collaboration

Within the broader context of the ongoing U.S.-India strategic

dialogue, Embassy New Delhi worked closely with host-country

contacts to design a framework for cooperation on clean energy

and climate change. While that framework built on a number

of existing, small-scale technical assistance projects, it also

reflected the new administration’s call for a far more ambitious

clean energy agenda.

With that in mind, we negotiated a bilateral memorandum of

understanding that became one of five pillars of the overall U.S.-



How U.S. Diplomacy Accelerated Clean Energy

Cooperation with India