Tag: renewable energy

Civil Society in the MENA region calls for renewable energy and climate protection

Civil society organizations dealing with the environment and renewable energy in the MENA region: We want to cooperate on the protection of the climate and get engaged in the political decision- 
making processes on low carbon development strategies and the promotion of renewable energy in our region 

On October 29th, just one day before the opening of the 4th Dii Desert Energy Conference in Rabat, key representatives from civil society organizations in the MENA region discussed the role civil society should play to contribute to the protection of the climate, to low carbon development strategies and the promotion of renewable energy in the MENA region. All participants agreed that transforming our fossil fuelled energy system into a sustainable one can only be accomplished through cooperation and dialogue among all relevant stakeholders. 

During the meeting it was reaffirmed that in order to achieve the required social acceptance for the energy transition in MENA countries it would be mandatory to develop it along the needs and interest of the civil society stakeholders who have, so far, only gained little traction in the debate. 

According to Fadoua Brour from the Moroccan Youth Climate Movement “The engagement of civil society becomes a prerequisite for the sustainable and successful implementation of renewable energies and measures of energy efficiency”.

With regard to the political changes in many MENA countries as a result of the Arab Spring Patricia Sfeir, Director of the Lebanese NGO IndyAct underlined that “People are demanding their right to participate in the energy transition in their countries and do not want to be seen as just passive recipients of foreign technologies. They are claiming a transparent and equitable distribution of socio-economic opportunities for the best of society”. 

At the end of the meeting, all participants agreed that the establishment of a consolidated and interconnected civil society framework would allow for more structured and effective engagement with the public and private actors in seeking a direct and equitable cooperation on climate protection, low carbon development and the promotion of renewable energies in the MENA region. 

“The discussions during this meeting have clearly showed that there is an urgent need to support the networking among MENA NGOs to collaborate on environmental and energy related issues, build capacities to enable civil society engagement in the context of developing and implementing national energy plans and increase awareness on the needed shift towards a sustainable energy future” noted Wael Hmaidan, Director of the Climate Action Network (CAN), while stressing the very positive spirit of collaboration in the meeting. 
 
For further information, please contact Ms. Patricia Sfeir, Director of the NGO IndyAct (psfeir@indyact.org) or Maria de Lope, WWF Morocco representative (mjdelope@wwf.panda.org). 

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Where are the NAMAs for Arab Countries?

Having COP18 in Qatar presents a unique opportunity to move forward with mitigation and adaptation efforts for climate change in the region, as well as for climate finance. With this in mind, ECO is calling for leadership from the Arab states beyond the conference hall. 

ECO supports Greenpeace's call for east-west regional integration in the Arab world with regard to the research, financing and development of renewable energy technologies. This regional cooperation can build on the work already done by individual states in renewable energy development, while developing a new role for regional states at the forefront of clean energy technology innovation.
 
Renewable energy cooperation will also promote economies of scale and fraternal ties crucial to dealing with the other pressing climate impacts faced by many regional states: growing water scarcity amid shifting weather patterns and, in some, projected sea-level rises on coastal communities and aquifers.
Climate mitigation requires both regional and global efforts to switch from dirty fossil fuels to safe renewable energy sources. 
 
ECO favours a regional approach in which economic diversification crucial to future prosperity is built on sustainable national and regional energy strategies—where renewable energy progressively takes the lead role in generation. This includes a transformation away from fossil fuel over-reliance.
 
Qatar and fellow Gulf States have the economic capacity to make this shift and simultaneously play a key role in climate change financing. For equity reasons, this should only occur in the context of Annex 1 fulfilling their commitments to climate finance.
 
Where market adjustments are made, Greenpeace has demonstrated in its Energy [R]evolution that the capacity of Middle East States and the world as a whole can make the rapid switch to solar and other renewable energies, which are already becoming cost competitive, despite the massive subsidy advantages that fossil fuels enjoy. 
For Arab states, renewables provide the promise of energy sovereignty and the path to sustainable development and prosperity. But the Arab states are not the only ones who have not submitted their NAMAs.
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UAE sets to impress

Yesterday the halls of COP 18 in Doha were abuzz because of an announcement by the UAE during the meeting of the ADP. The Gulf state announced concrete actions it would be taking in order to do its part in reducing climate change. 

The UAE announced that they will open a 100 megawatt (MW) plant this year using Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), while also preparing for another 100 MW using Photovoltaics (PV).
 
This is exciting news considering that the UAE belongs to a set of countries that have not historically been responsible for comparatively large total emissions. The Arab world in specific is currently only responsible for a fraction of total world emissions and is still flagged as a developing country region. 
 
The UAE has already been one of the more active countries in the region in renewable energy. In recent years it has shown a drive to improve its infrastructure in many regards and the energy generation sector is no exception. 
 
The examples to this are numerous, such as increased solar energy (including a solar roofing pilot program), and wind energy generation adapted to the weather of the region. Several mass transit projects, such as the Dubai and Abu Dhabi metros, and the countrywide rail system, are underway. Following through in the transportation sector, several gas stations in the capital are involved in the initial phases of a drive to retrofit vehicles to use liquid petroleum gas.
 
ECO hopes this latest announcement in COP18 foreshadows much more to come. ECO remains cautions, however, since the UAE announced as well that it would be adopting nuclear energy and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) in order to reach its mitigation goals. CAN does not condone this last announcement and would strongly encourage the UAE to disregard this path and instead focus on their very promising renewable energy mix.
 
The UAE would do itself and he world a great favor by voluntarily pledging to commit to reducing climate pollution and by pledging its already existing mitigations actions. Such a gesture will cement the UAE's active stance on climate and hopefully encourage other countries to take similar pledges, and will push developed countries to take binding commitments. 
 
This message has already being communicated to them by the Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM) and Greenpeace.
 
ECO remains hopeful that this move by the UAE can serve as a catalyst for change. 
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New text is a green light for fossil fuels

So the Brazilians pulled together a draft and shared it with at least some of the world on Saturday night (some delegates had not even received it on the Sunday). Like everyone else, ECO was scrambling to see what was in it, specifically for energy and climate.

Oh the irony of climate and energy

As expected, there was good and bad, but unexpected was the irony: the new text was strong on climate, reaffirming the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities. There was a temperature target (2 or 1.5), and a nod, i.e. ‘recognise the importance of’ mobilising funds and transferring technology, as well as urging parties to honour their Kyoto commitments (hint hint, Canada et al).

And yet what’s driving climate change, what’s responsible for two thirds of all emissions, what’s destroying local communities and their environments – we’re talking about our addiction to dirty fossil fuels for energy – has been completely watered down.  In fact, the energy paragraphs positively promote fossil fuels. It makes achieving the climate paragraph a near impossibility.

Actively endorsing fossil fuels

Thanks to Canada, Russia and others, where we talk of ‘an increased use of renewable energy sources’, the text also adds ‘and other low-emission technologies’, and even goes further, explicitly including ‘cleaner fossil fuel technologies’. There’s a recognition that renewable technology and energy efficiency are necessary for sustainable development, but there’s no means of achieving it: all mentions of technology transfer and finance have been removed, with finance only be mentioned for energy access. While this is of course incredibly important for sustainable development – and great that it gets its own paragraph in the text, if a little weak on access for who – but it’s not the whole picture. If we’re expecting countries to leap frog our own dirty development pathways, rich, industrialised countries need to provide the adequate and appropriate technology and finance in line with commitments that have been in place for the past 20 years.

Sustainable Energy for All

Ban Ki-moon’s ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ (SE4All) initiative, which isn’t part of the official process but was ‘welcomed’ in the zero draft, has now only been noted after a united position from G77+China. While it’s addressing the right challenges – climate change and poverty – a statement signed by over 100 civil society organisations from across the world shows how much work is needed. As it stands its unambitious targets are inadequate to meet the climate crisis, while civil society and the energy poor – those it should be helping – have been left outside a process dominated by corporate fossil fuel, finance and utility interests. Not being in the text will not mean the end of the initiative, as the Secretary General’s office have been predicting this for a while, so the challenge now is ensuring that after Rio, the initiative launches a people-driven process to see how we can genuinely deliver sustainable energy for all.

Fossil fuel subsidies

One way we can start is by ending government hand-outs to the fossil fuel industries, but they’ve been dealt a heavy blow in the latest text. Rather than honouring commitments made back in 2009, the text ‘recognises the need for further action’ – collective amnesia? Like all issues, there are nuances, so the first step is addressing subsidies given directly to dirty energy companies, but pushing them out of the text is another step backwards. Today over a million signatures are being handed to world leaders, all calling on governments to stop handing our money to dirty industry, because Rio is a real chance to make some progress. We need to make sure that happens.

The Future We Don’t Want

This text is not going to deliver a sustainable future, driven by clean, safe and affordable energy, but it reflects what’s round the table: no political commitment from those that can make it happen. We need to challenge fossil fuel interest

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Bioenergy: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Renewable energy is playing a starring role in new energy policies, but ECO fears that bioenergy may be seen as ‘carbon neutral’ under false pretences.

Many forms of bioenergy have a substantially unrecognised carbon footprint. Under existing IPCC guidance, GHG emissions from bioenergy are not accounted for in the energy sector. Rather, the guidance assumes that the emissions associated with bioenergy use in Annex 1 countries will be reflected in accounting in the LULUCF sector. 

However, current LULUCF rules have ambushed this intention. While emissions from land-use change are accounted in the first commitment period of the KP, accounting for forest management and cropland management is voluntary. And it is the products of forest and cropland management that are burnt for bioenergy. As a result, these emissions are not necessarily accounted anywhere. Proposed accounting rules for forest management (in the second commitment period) could still allow Annex I parties to avoid accounting for the atmospheric impacts of forest-based bioenergy production and use, if Parties build pre-2010 bioenergy policies into their business-as-usual Reference Levels. There is no proposal to make accounting of cropland management mandatory.

Further, bioenergy sourced from non-Annex I countries and used in Annex I countries may escape capture in Annex I accounts.

The mistaken assumption that bioenergy is always ‘carbon neutral’ underlies a wide range of policies subsidising and otherwise favouring bioenergy. This is will catch up with us, and the planet.

It is time to bite the bullet and account for emissions from bioenergy in the sector of origin (the LULUCF sector) or in the end use sector (the energy sector). Ultimately, it may be necessary to account for different components of the carbon life cycle of bioenergy in different sectors, but the emissions must be included somewhere!

To find out more, saddle up and ride on in to the CAN side event 3:15 today in Tram.

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Ludwig in Bonn

Ludwig went to the presentation of the IPCC on their renewables report and learned that renewable energy can provide all our current and future energy needs. While listening to the presentations of these smart scientists he also learned that in order to optimally use what nature offers us, we need governments to develop the right set of supportive policies. Ludwig was therefore very surprised when he opened his computer after this presentation and read about the Chinese government planning to cancel its subsidies for wind energy due to a complaint at the World Trade Organisation against this subsidy by the US government. Did the US government not yet receive a copy of the IPCC report? If not, Ludwig would be happy to give them his copy.

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Brave New Zealand!

One of the first things the current Zealand Government did when it came to power was to announce its intention to replace the country’s existing Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategies. Both had strong Green Party support because of the moves towards favouring renewable energy over the burning of fossil fuels.

In yesterday’s workshop, the New Zealand delegate did not signal any major changes from the current strategy – though she did do some special pleading for her small island (developed) state. So small! Such a small part of global emissions!

So imagine ECO’s surprise when a draft copy of the “new” Energy Strategy landed on our desk. It is now a fancy looking 40 page booklet (laid out with a whole lot of pretty pictures!) whose top priority is to “develop petroleum and mineral fuel resources,” ahead of renewable energy and new energy technologies.

So thinking small after all? Link: http://bit.ly/gjwl6M

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A Convenient Truth


Never waste a good crisis, runs the adage. On Wednesday, the (IIASA) presented a new report outlining Annex I mitigation costs and potentials based on the effects of the economic crisis. The report uses post-crisis GDP projections based on the IEA’s 2009 world energy outlook.

Here are the headlines
•    In 2020 Annex I emissions are 6% below 1990 levels in the reference scenario.
•    The cost of implementing the most ambitious Annex 1 pledges would be  -0.03% to 0.01% of GDP.
•    The carbon price settles at EURO 3 per tonne.
•    An extra 10% reduction could be achieved at the same equilibrium carbon price (-27% instead of -17% from 1990).
•    Some country targets are well above their emissions in the reference scenario, which could create a new surplus of emissions rights.

In other words, it is now much easier to achieve the emission targets we need. The world is demand investments in the infrastructure of the 21st century – renewable energy, smart grids and mass transport. The economic transformation we need could become a job-generator for economies blacking out with systemic unemployment. And we can save our climate, which is set on a course to disaster.  So the economic crisis also turns out to be an opportunity, but this means making a choice.

For the benefit of parties, as an example here is a table of new economic models on the costs of the EU’s 30% reduction pledge, in the light of the crisis.

And what is true for the EU is true for Annex I as a whole: emissions caps developed for a pre-crisis world can easily been tightened again in a post-crisis world, to benefit both the climate and the economy.

Scotland breaks the 40% barrier

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Scotland? Tartan? Golf? Scotch whisky? Now there's something new -- legally binding emissions cuts of 42% by 2020. Scotland has committed to reduce its emissions by that level and 80% by 2050, all relative to 1990 levels. Scotland has also pledged to make at least 80% of these cuts within Scotland and, an important innovation that should be emulated by other Parties, to report annually on all its consumption based emissions as well.

How is Scotland planning to achieve such heroic feats, despite being almost as cold as Canada or Russia, and having nearly a many sheep as New Zealand? You can find out directly from the source: the Scottish Minister for Climate Change, NGO and business leaders will explain how they plan to do it on Tuesday at 9 am in Room 5. ECO doesn’t want to steal the Minister’s thunder, but we can reveal some clues involving renewable energy, improving the energy efficiency of buildings and better public transport. And another hint for delegates in Annex I: take note, it’s not rocket science!

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