The United States relies on the Western hemisphere—including Canada—for nearly half of its oil. Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela are top suppliers to the United States, making energy security a critical component of hemispheric foreign policy. This is particularly true after Brazil’s new oil finds in 2008, which could make Brazil the eighth largest oil-producing nation, surpassing Russia. This development points to another area in which the United States and Brazil may be able to cooperate as we must shift our energy sources to within our circle of allies wherever possible—an approach not mutually exclusive to efforts toward eventual energy independence.
Before we can engage Brazil effectively, however, the United States has a serious need to rebuild its credibility on energy and environmental issues. Part of the United States reasserting itself on environmental issues is reintegrating itself into multilateral post-Kyoto climate change initiatives. This would be welcome in Brazil.
Further, we should deepen ongoing efforts between our respective non-government organization communities and seek to partner with the Brazilian government on international conservation efforts, while respecting national sovereignty. New U.S. leadership will surely challenge its local consumers to reduce energy consumption, as has been done successfully in times of energy shortages in Brazil. To creatively approach conservation in the United States, we should learn what we can from Brazil’s experience.
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