Working Visit to the U.S. Focuses on Energy and Climate Policy

Bern, 11.07.2014 - During a working visit to the U.S. from July 7 to July 11, Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard met Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman and a number of other U.S. government officials in Washington. Talks with various business and academic representatives were also held. In Boston, Federal Councillor Leuthard met the city's mayor and Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick. At the end of her stay, she opened the Watt d’Or – Swiss Energy Excellence exhibition as part of Swiss-U.S. Energy Innovation Days.

The working visit to the U.S. was mainly focused on energy and climate policy. In Washington, Federal Councillor Leuthard met Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman. Their discussions covered the two countries' energy strategies, promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy, reducing greenhouse gases, the recent tightening of emissions regulations for coal-fired power plants and the shale gas boom in the U.S. The resulting shake-up of the energy sector was addressed at a meeting with Deputy Administrator Robert Perciasepe of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Air quality and water quality measures were also discussed. At a meeting with  Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change Trigg Talley at the State Department, Federal Councillor Leuthard talked about the status of negotiations for a new agreement on climate change beyond 2020. Both Switzerland and the U.S. are committed to an agreement with binding reduction targets.

In Boston, Federal Councillor Leuthard met with Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick and Mayor Martin J. Walsh. She was briefed on measures such as "Greenovate Boston," which aims to improve energy efficiency and reduce dependency on fossil fuels. Cooperation between research and industry was also covered in their discussions, as well as in talks with representatives from Harvard and Northeastern Universities. She also gave a speech at a colloquium on energy supply and energy security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She stressed that "the future of energy lies in the intelligent integration of production, transmission and consumption. We must ensure that the best ideas make it from laboratory to market."

At the MIT campus, Ms. Leuthard attended the signing of a student exchange agreement between the ETH Zurich and MIT, which have had close ties at the research level for some time and now they will be extended to studies. For the time being, the agreement is limited to ETH students from the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, but it is expected to be extended to other departments in the future. Energy research is of key importance to both MIT and the ETH Zurich. Therefore closer cooperation in this field between the two institutions is planned, with the MIT Energy Initiative and the ETH Energy Science Center playing leading roles.  "Since other countries can produce at a lower cost than Switzerland, we must see to it that we remain a leader in technological innovation," stressed Federal Councillor Leuthard.

Also on the agenda in Boston was the opening of the Watt d'Or - Swiss Energy Excellence exhibition, which showcases 25 projects in Switzerland that have won the Watt d'Or award for outstanding innovation in energy. The opening of the exhibition marked the launch of Swiss-U.S. Energy Innovation Days, aimed at promoting exchanges and cooperation between science and industry. The event, hosted by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy and swissnex Boston, was attended by around 300 people including researchers and representatives from companies and industry associations from Switzerland and the U.S.

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General Secretariat of the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications; General Secretariat DETEC