Renewables 2004: The first step to action?
BONN (GERMANY) – Friends of the Earth International welcomes the participation of over 150 countries at the international renewables conference, the first ever inter-governmental meeting to focus exclusively on the promotion of renewable energy to help fight climate change and poverty. However, the positive outcomes were too weak to prove the turning point towards a global sustainable energy future.
Governments at the conference recognised the benefits of renewable energy. Renewables make a significant contribution in helping to combat dangerous climate change and offer a real chance for access to clean and affordable energy for the two billion people currently without. Renewables have the potential to alleviate poverty, reduce regional and local air and water pollution, generate jobs and income, empower local communities and promote gender equity.
One of the key conference papers, the official political declaration, was itself a general statement. It left several questions unanswered, but illustrated the potential of various renewable technologies and a lack of concern for the problems connected to the development of big hydroelectric dams.
Roque Pedace with Friends of the Earth Argentina said “It has been proven many times that large dams cause enormous damage on the environment and violate basic human rights. These major projects do not make any sense from a social and environmental perspective.
“The equity dimension of a just transition to a sustainable energy future is still pending. We won’t see climate change mitigation in developing countries unless access to energy is provided and local technological capabilities are put in place,” he added.
Friends of the Earth International is particularly disappointed by the fact that the World Bank and other International Financial Institutions, including Export Credit Agencies, which provide large amount of financial support for fossil fuels and thus frustrate attempts to create an equal level playing field for renewables, did not commit to radically shifting their financing portfolios in Bonn. The two USA export credit agencies, for example, have provided guarantees for up to 9.1 billion USD on fossil fuel projects since 2001 alone, while they supported renewables with only 5 million USD.
Hannah Ellis, Friends of the Earth International Financial Institutions Campaigner, said:
“The Extractive Industries Review recognised that in the vast majority of cases World Bank financing for oil, mining and gas projects has not alleviated poverty or promoted sustainable development. The World Bank has not denied this. It is time for governments to demand a dramatic shift in the energy portfolio of International Financial Institutions such as the World Bank. The European Investment Bank’s announcement today of a 50 per cent target is a welcome first step.”
Friends of the Earth will be monitoring some of the more positive submissions to the International Action Programme and other government actions in the follow-up process to ensure that they delivere their commitments on renewables as well as energy efficiency.
Catherine Pearce, Friends of the Earth International, +49 1726299719
Hannah Ellis, Friends of the Earth UK, +44 7810 558 246
Markus Steigenberger, Friends of the Earth Germany, Bund, +49 1739234747