100 conference pledges to boost renewables

Posted: 11 March 2008

Renewable energy leaders from more than 150 countries, including those from governments, regions, business and non-government organisations, meeting in Washington DC from 4-6 March, made more than 100 pledges of action to meet enhanced energy goals.

Participants at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) exchanged accounts of how government policies throughout parts of the European Union, Asia and South America have helped renewable energies such as wind, biofuels, and photovoltaic and concentrating solar power grow consistently from one year to the next.

US State Department Under-Secretary Paula Dobriansky
US State Department Under-Secretary Paula Dobriansky
"Renewable energy is a global priority, and advancing these technologies requires a network of collaborators from multiple industries and multiple governments," said US State Department Under-Secretary Paula Dobriansky.

Business leaders described the benefits of having national targets for increased adoption of renewable energy, as well as action plans and policies to reach those targets.

Addressing the Conference, President George W. Bush laid out the US strategy for reducing oil use in America and discussed current initiatives to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy use.

The President announced a US commitment of $2 billion over the next three years to create an international clean energy technology fund that would help developing countries finance renewable energy projects.

Political will

Kim Campbell, former Prime Minister of Canada, spoke about a "shared sense of urgency" that is growing throughout the industrialized world about the need to adopt renewable energy as part of an action plan to dealing with a warming planet.

"You have to create political will," said Campbell, who was among the active participants in the International Panel on Climate Change report on global warming.

Connie Hedegard, the climate and energy minister from Denmark, said investors in cleaner energy deserve mechanisms that will give them confidence money will be spent on renewable energy technologies. Denmark pledged to "increase the share of renewable energy to at least 30 per cent of energy consumption by 2025," despite having no potential for hydropower development.

"Norway has embarked on the ambitious journey to become carbon neutral," said Oivind Johansen, assistant director general of the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, Norway. He explained that Norway, already rich in tidal and hydroelectric power, has pledged to over-fulfil its obligations under the Kyoto global warming treaty between 2008 and 2012 by some 5 million tons, creating renewable energy investment opportunities around the world as it seeks to offset its remaining emissions.

Among other pledges by governments to commit resources to improving their use of renewable energy were:

  • Cape Verde promised to achieve 50 per cent renewable generation by 2020, and 100 per cent on one of its nine habitable islands.
  • New Zealand pledged 90 per cent renewable electricity by 2025, achieved through a carbon trading scheme and a 10-year restriction on new base-load fossil fuel generation plants.
  • The Council of the European Union volunteered to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 20 per cent by 2020.
  • Brazil pledged to maintain its share of renewable energy, which is about 45 per cent, and promote diversification among renewable energy sources.
  • Norway pledged an increase in development aid to 1 per cent of its gross national income, with a priority for environment and energy spending.
  • Australia pledged 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020, as part of a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Finally, the United States - the single greatest energy consumer in the world - pledged that 7.5 per cent of its electric energy use will come from renewable resources by 2013.
The fourth international renewable energy conference will be hosted by India in 2010. This year's conference WIREC 2008, hosted by the United States Government, in cooperation with the American Council On Renewable Energy, is the third global ministerial-level conference on renewable energy, following events in Beijing in 2005 and Bonn in 2004.

WIREC 2008