A Global Charter for Renewable Energy to take us into the Solar Age is being drawn up by the World Council for Renewable Energy.
The Barefoot College has won an Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy for its work in training barefoot engineers in the Himalayas to install and maintain solar power systems in remote villages, immeasurably improving quality of life. Villagers can now pump water onto previously arid land and work in winter evenings. Contact/Photo: www.ashdenawards.org
The Charter will be at the centre of discussions at the World Renewable Energy Forum in Bonn next June to be attended by non-governmental organisations from around the world. Immediately afterwards, the Charter will be presented to Ministers at the first ever International Governmental Conference on Renewable Energies when an Action plan for the world-wide development of renewable energy will be adopted.
The German Chancellor, Gerhardt Schroder, first put forward the idea of a coalition of countries committed to renewable energy at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg last September, when it became clear that the Americans would block any serious commitment to renewable energy. Now more than 80 countries have joined the Johannes-burg Renewable Energy Coalition.
Speaking at their first meeting in Brussels in the summer, the German Minister for the Environment, Juergen Trittin, said: “Renewable energy brings multiple gains: it protects the climate, reduces poverty and promotes technological and economic development.”
The Germans are setting a positive example in their use of renewable energy, which is now providing eight per cent of their energy, saving some 50 million tons of CO2 emissions. They are committed to increasing that figure to 20 per cent by 2020 and 50 per cent by 2050. Herr Trittin said that the government had created the framework for a boom in renewable energy. “Other countries too must shape the basic conditions for the development of renewable energy and remove the many barriers holding it back.”
Although the Bush administration has done little to promote renewable energy, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has given Solar Energy a budget of $20 million dollars. “This clearly shows that renewable energy is realisable and a necessary strategy for developing sustainable cities,” said Dr. Hermann Scheer, who is General Chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy and a Member of the German Parliament.
State Minister, Eric Staher of the Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development said: “About one third of humanity has no access to commercial energy. The expansion of renewable energy offers a way to overcome this, while at the same time reducing our dependence on costly oil imports. The great potential of sun, wind and waterpower must be encouraged. The first International Conference and the Action Plan will help to pave the way.”
Dr. Scheer foresees the day when the only energy used on earth will be energy derived from the sun. He says: “The great thing about the sun is that it shines everywhere and consequently we can have solar energy everywhere. Some countries have more winds, some have more waves, some more biomass but the potential is everywhere.
“The only way to avoid the dramatic global consequences of decreasing availability of exhaustible resources and growing demand, which will reach a crossroads during this century, is a complete conversion to solar energy.”
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