Accelerating the introduction of solar, wind and wave power is one of the most pressing issues facing mankind in the new millennium, according to the head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
PARIS, France – Green energy must be put at the heart of sustainable development if the threats of climate change and the need to tackle poverty and ill health in the developing world are to be truly addressed, says Klaus Toepfer. “Sustainable development, or not cheating on your children, means things like ensuring our ever-growing cities function as stimulating and vibrant places to live and work; to ensuring that the poorest people in the world are not forced to chop down forests full of precious wildlife for wood to cook or keep warm,” he says. “I cannot frankly see how these problems can be overcome without the widespread introduction of non- or lesser-polluting forms of energy which conserve the planet’s finite resources of coal, oil and other fossil fuels.” His comments were made at meeting of the G-8 Task Force on Renewable Energy in Paris, prior to a meeting of energy ministers from ten African countries at UNEP headquarters in Kenya. UNEP will hold the 21st session of its Governing Council in Nairobi next month, when renewable energy will be among the key issues on the agenda. UNEP will invite the chair of the G8 task force, Mark Moody-Stuart of Royal Dutch Shell, to address the Council on how far the G-8 Task Force has come in formulating a strategy on delivery of sustainable energy to the developing world. UNEP argues that green power for heating, lighting and water pumping, will require the development of a pioneering network of advice centres across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Such centres would act as brokers to bring together governments, communities, development banks, loan agencies and technical experts, to overcome financial and other hurdles which can slow down the introduction of renewable energy projects. “We have identified regional centres of expertise and now wish to formalize these relationships,” explains John Christensen, and an informal network with two centres in each of the three key regions has been established and is helping countries such as Tanzania to develop less-polluting forms of energy. “We have found that working this way, we can move rapidly and more flexibly to deliver sustainable energy schemes in some of the places where they can make a real difference to people’s lives.”