Carlos Pascual was born in 1959 in Habana, Cuba. Pascual emigrated to the United States with his parents at the age of three. He attended Bishop Amat Memorial High School in La Puente, California, and graduated in 1976. He then earned a B.A. in international relations from Stanford University in 1980 and an M.P.P. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1982.
Pascual worked for USAID from 1983 to 1995 in Sudan, South Africa and Mozambique, and as Deputy Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia. From July 1998 to January 2000, Pascual served as Special Assistant to the President and NSC Senior Director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, and from 1995 to 1998 as Director for the same region, from October 2000 until May 2003, as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. He was then named Assistance Coordinator for Europe and Eurasia. In 2004, he was named Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization at the US Department of State.
Selected by President Barack Obama as ambassador to Mexico, he was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 7, 2009. He presented his credentials to the Mexican government on August 9, 2009 and personally to President Felipe Calderón on October 21, 2009. Pascual submitted his resignation as Ambassador to Mexico on March 19, 2011 in part due to tensions with Calderón. Tensions with President Calderón arose as a result of the WikiLeaks release of diplomatic cables in which Pascual criticized the Mexican military’s ability or willingness to fight the Mexican drug cartels. Pascual is considered to be the first casualty of the Wikileaks affair.
Pascual was appointed the State Department’s Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs in May 2011. He led the Bureau of Energy Resources. Pascual was also the senior advisor to the Secretary of State on global energy diplomacy. In February 2012, April 2013 and January 2014 Pascual was nominated as Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, but not confirmed by the Senate. In August 2014 Pascual was succeeded by Amos Hochstein
In 2015, Pascual worked as vice president and Director of the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution where he presided over the creation of the Brookings Doha Center and the Brookings-Tsinghua Center.
Pascual serves on the Board of Directors of Centrica, a British multinational electricity and gas utility company. He is a non-resident fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University and sits on the Atlantic Council Board of Director
He currently serves as senior vice president of global energy at IHS Markit. He resides in Washington, D.C.