World’s Environmental Officials Agree to Increase Reliance on Renewables

From Reuters, an article on the Beijing Declaration, an agreement among environmental officials of 78 countries “…to work to increase reliance on renewable sources of energy, underscoring a commitment to renewables after oil prices hit record highs.”

The draft statement stopped short of setting a firm goal but it recommended the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development consider the launch of a 10-year framework to “substantially increase the use of renewable energy.”

The Beijing Declaration was the culmination of a two-day international conference that was a follow-up to meetings in Johannesburg in 2002 and last year in Bonn that aim to promote cooperation on renewable energy.

“The 10-year framework is much more specific than Bonn. They now have an official request of the UN Commission that feeds back into the UN system,” Christine Woerlen, of the Global Environment Facility, told Reuters on the sidelines of the meeting.

The statement also did not set a target for investment in the renewables sector, though it stressed the need for funds for research and development, support for commercialization of new technologies and the transfer of technologies from rich nations to poor.

“Targets and timetables do matter. But there is a dispirited feeling that the U.S. just rejects multilateral target-setting for the time being,” said James Cameron of Climate Change Capital, a UK-based merchant bank that focuses on energy and the environment.

Nonetheless, he said the commitment to renewable forms of energy such as solar and wind power was growing.

Despite the lack of specific targets, the draft statement demonstrates a complex view of the role energy development plays in economic development, and what that means for the large portion of the world still living in poverty:

3. We emphasize the multiple benefits of increased energy efficiency and the use of renewable sources of energy for improving access to energy services, thereby contributing to the eradication of poverty as called for in the UN millennium Development Goals (MDGs), increasing job opportunities, improving air quality and public health, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combating climate change, enhancing energy security, and offering a new paradigm for international cooperation.
γ€€γ€€4. We note with concern that more than 2 billion people in developing countries do not have access to modern energy services and 2.4 billion people rely on traditional biomass for their basic energy needs. This energy divide entrenches poverty by limiting access to information, education, economic opportunity, and healthier livelihoods, particularly for women and children, and erodes environmental sustainability at the local, national, and global levels.

To quote BP, “It’s a start…” Coupling this with recent news on renewable energy investment, though, paints an optimistic picture. If we could just get our friends in Washington on board in a concrete manner…

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