ASP’s Senior Fellow for Energy and Climate, Andrew Holland was featured in the Inter American Dialogue‘s April 20 edition of Latin America Advisor. He was asked: “Will U.S. Efforts Help Address the Caribbean’s Energy Woes?”
Geopolitics and economics are bringing U.S. foreign policy back to the Caribbean, and energy is a new tool for expanding American influence. As Venezuela threatens to fall into economic collapse, those countries dependent on its Petrocaribe subsidy program could get dragged down with it. In order to prevent this, the United States will build its own energy ties throughout the Caribbean.
On its own, the president’s $20 million figure is not nearly enough, but the signal it sends about American commitment is important. The United States can help countries diversify off imported fuel oil by securing financing for renewable energy (the Caribbean has plenty of sun and wind), it can promote exports of liquefied natural gas to larger islands like the Dominican Republic, and it can promote fuel switching to more efficient propane for electricity for smaller markets, like the upgrade the U.S. Virgin Islands has just completed. Put together, this suite of options for energy engagement will promote strong ties between the United States and Caribbean countries for a long time to come.”
Holland is confident that the U.S. will be mostly a “coordinator, not a funder” of building Caribbean energy security. Recent geopolitical events, including the opening to Cuba and the rivalry with Venezuela, show that American interest is returning to the Caribbean. American energy can help the U.S. will to become a new hub of energy in the region, enhancing its own ability to guide the politics of the region for mutually beneficial gains in climate security, energy security, and economic prosperity.
Further reading on energy in the Caribbean: