International Energy Conference – the second day

Marianne Moscoso-OSterkorn speakingThe second day of the Vienna Energy Conference started today morning with a short summary of the key findings from yesterday which are split into two parts – the challenges we are dealing with and possible solutions.

The challenge is … that there is no single challenge! We are dealing with fundamental questions like energy security, climate change and energy access and therefore there is no single solution (but we already knew that, didn’t we?)

More interesting … How to deal with it … well, there are a few key solutions from the sessions that took place yesterday:

  • a widely shared policy framework is needed
  • appropriate incentives should be created … especially a carbon price
  • rapid technology development and diffusion is necessary
  • and a deep engagement with the public is one of the key success factors

After this summary, we started with the first session of the day, which I summarized below:

Towards a sustainable low carbon path to a sustainable development:

Fernandez Zucco, Secretary of State Dominican Republic stated in its initial speech, that it is difficult for the first world to understand the problems of the 3rd world. 1.6 billion people are without energy access and this is a great thread for everyone. He pointed out that energy is as essential as health and education and that for developing countries it should be the same priority to deal with energy and energy access than dealing with health and education as it is the prerequisite for health and education. He also urged that everyone should think about social responsibilities that we all have’.

Christopher Flavin, President, Worldwatch Institute gave a speech on the changes in the energy sector in the last five years. He pointed out that there was a huge increase in investment since 2004 (20 billion USD in 2004 increased to 120 billion USD in 2008). He also said that in 2008 the investment in renewable energy capacity worldwide exceeded for the first time the fossil investment. Unfortunately this is at the moment affected by the economic crises, but nevertheless things are at a very different point than they have been in 2004.

He finally pointed out that the past 5 years have shown, that having a higher price for fossil fuels makes a big difference and that the marketplace can work if we get the prices right. However, finance and prices alone cannot make the difference, policies are needed.

Melinda L. Kimble, Senior Vice President from United Nations Foundation began her speech by pointing out that developing the Kyoto Protocol took 7 years to get into force and we cannot afford another delay like that for future agreements (Copenhagen). She added that in her mind there are three key areas of importance:

  • Energy efficiency – she suggested to make an agreement on COP15 to double EE by 2020 because this would make a big difference.
  • Diffusion of Renewable Energy – in her eyes this is easily possible with the right kind of investment.
  • Unify the carbon markets in the OECD between now and 2015.

Marianne Moscoso-Osterkorn, Director General of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) highlighted the importance of NGOs in this process. She said that there are three added values that those partnerships play in the future:

  • It needs fast reaction time to implement RE & EE related projects which is only possible for NGOs.
  • Is necessary to be very flexible – Renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions have to be tailor made because every country needs a special solution and therefore it is very important to customize solutions.
  • Promotion of all relevant activities is very important and NGOs can do that very easily.

She also pointed out that it would make the work easier if NGO’s if they would have a more formal status in the international community and that governments play a critical role in the whole process of moving forward to a low-carbon path in sustainable development.

Why? Because they:

  1. create the policies
  2. have to implement it on the ground
  3. are the biggest energy consumers

Karsten Sach, Chairman of the Administrative Committee of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) introduced IRENA in this context and said that  IRENA was founded to empower the change outside the UN (for the reason of speed). He highlighted the tasks of IRENA:

  • develop a comprehensive knowledge base
  • create a framework and promote tech transfer
  • advice financing but IRENA will not be the financier.
  • Enhance capacity building and roll out renewable energy
  • Stimulate research and create a global network with other important organisations.

Last but not least Anders Wijkman, Member of the European Parliament added that there is a need to have a systems perspective – not only on energy but also on resource use in all other areas. In this matter resource efficiency is as important as energy efficiency. He suggested to bring in legislators to the climate change negotiations as they can share best practices about legislations that worked. He also urged that we need global energy efficiency standards (especially for consumer products).

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