UC Berkeley Professor to Serve as New Clean Energy Adviser

Daniel Kammen Set to Advise U.S. Government on Energy Issues in the Western Hemisphere

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week appointed a UC Berkeley professor to serve as a new type of adviser on clean energy issues for countries in the Western Hemisphere.

Daniel Kammen, a professor in the campus's Energy and Resources Group, the Goldman School of Public Policy and the Department of Nuclear Engineering, will serve as one of three senior fellows for the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas. The partnership was proposed by President Barack Obama in April 2009 to encourage clean energy development.

"This position is kind of a new channel of discussion between nations, and it's also ... a nice challenge," Kammen said.

According to Kammen, two of his first projects will be improving the efficiency of stoves and health in Central America and expanding support of solar and wind energy efforts in North America.

"It would be ideal to see better science and deployment networks in the Americas on clean energy, and to expand the support for energy efficiency," he said in an e-mail.

Kammen said while other countries like Chile are ahead of the U.S. in some areas of clean energy, the U.S. still has the most research and development activity.

"We have a lot to offer other countries," he said. "But I think this is much more of a two-way dialogue."

Still, Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a Washington, D.C.-based research group, said local communities have to carefully consider what outside advisers say because while the careers of the advisers continue, the social cost paid by these communities for following the advice is often high, and the advice cannot be retroactively validated.

Birns said the U.S. government has often hired university consultants who have provided advice that served the political desires of policy makers rather than the needs of the country being advised.

"It would be very good if consultants are evaluated on the nature of their consultation rather than on whether they're saying things that the government wants them to say," he said.


Cristian Macavei covers research and ideas. Contact him at [email protected]



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