UN Offers Renewable Energy Funding Initiative

The head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced the launching of a Sustainable Energy Finance Initiative (SEFI) which he said was aimed at engaging the finance sector to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Tokyo, Japan – October 21, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer told more than 600 bankers, financiers and members of the financial sector in Tokyo for the UNEP Finance Initiative Global Roundtable that two of world’s most pressing issues – energy security and climate change – will not be solved “by the mindset that created them.” “Instead of climate change we need to create the climate for change,” he said. According to a UNEP statement from Tokyo, Toepfer told the group that “although sustainable energy technologies such as solar cells and wind turbines have advanced rapidly, the transaction costs and market uncertainty of many renewable energy projects has led most financiers to adopt a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude, which is compounded by an overall lack of information, experience and the tools needed to quantify, mitigate and hedge project and financial product risks.” He added that, “ýSEFI will help mainstream financiers overcome these barriers and consider renewable energy and energy efficiency as not just niche investments, but key components of secure energy systems based on truly sustainable forms of energy.” Toepfer said that if the billions of dollars to be invested in new energy infrastructure in the next two decades follows the fossil fuel “business as usual” mindset, the resulting serious and irreparable environmental and social harm could dramatically affect the health of human societies, economies and the ecosystems on which they depend. “For developing countries, in particular, the reliance on fossil fuels and centralized infrastructure will not serve the vast majority of people in rural areas where the economic benefits of a modern energy system are elusive, although the environmental costs from using low quality fuels such as dung, coal and kerosene are not,” he said.

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