Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary
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The Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary was developed by Mick Kelly and Sarah Granich on behalf of the Stockholm Environment Institute and the International Institute for Environment and Development, with sponsorship from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
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Newswatch editor Sarah Granich reports on Renewables 2004, a major international conference on renewable energy held in June 2004.
The International Conference for Renewable Energies, informally referred to as Renewables 2004, was held in Bonn, Germany, 1st-4th June 2004. With over 3,500 participants from 154 countries, the four-day event was a significant step forward in the promotion of the development and use of renewable energies.
Two of Germany's representatives, Environment Minister Jurgen Tritten and Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, declared at the conclusion of the conference that "the conference was a complete success. Together, the delegates have paved the way for a global transformation in energy structures and for a massive increase in the use of renewable energies. This will alleviate global poverty and protect the climate."
How much was, in fact, achieved?
There were three specific outcomes from the conference, which participants emphasized should be linked closely in any ensuing agreements or activities. These were a Political Declaration, an International Action Programme and Policy Recommendations for Renewable Energies. The full texts of these, together with further details on other conference documents and events, are available online.
The Political Declaration contains definitions of common political objectives for the promotion of the role of renewable energies. It acts as a framework for shared political goals for the increased development and use of renewables and reflects the joint vision of a sustainable energy future which is intended to provide better and more equitable access to energy as well as increased energy efficiency.
There were a number of agreements made to further cooperation and development in various additional discussions throughout the conference. Germany, for example, signed letters of intent with both Denmark and Brazil. Denmark and Germany intend to cooperate closely on offshore wind energy research. The agreement with Brazil concerned fees for the feed-in of electricity from renewable energies into the grid.
Germany also signed to a strategic partnership agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank. This cooperation agreement is to promote renewable energies and increase energy efficiency in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is hoped that this cooperation will provide additional impetus on both sides in order to further intensify existing activities in Latin America and the Caribbean in line with the conference goals as well as designing them more effectively as part of broader policy approaches.
The second major outcome from the conference, the International Action Programme, includes actions and commitments by governments, international organizations and stakeholders. Conference participants were invited to contribute to the action programme with voluntary commitments to goals, targets and actions within their own spheres of responsibility. To date, well over 100 proposals for voluntary measures have been endorsed and other submissions for action are currently being screened.
The third official outcome, Policy Recommendations for Renewable Energies, aims to provide practical advice on how to promote the development of markets for renewable energies throughout the world. It is intended that these recommendations be of benefit to governments, international organizations and stakeholders as they develop new approaches and political strategies and address the roles and responsibilities of the key players.
The additional side events at Bonn were many and varied. The Climate Alliance initiated a climate relay race intended to highlight the need for climate protection and the need for greatly expanded use of renewable energies throughout the world. The climate relay race, with the help of local and regional governments and non-governmental organizations, was undertaken by runners, cyclists, horse riders, inline skaters and rowers. After 4,000 kilometers the baton was handed over to Germany's Environment Minister Jurgen Trittin.
Water activists organized the presentation to Germany's Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul of a 'message in a bottle'. Standing at around six feet tall the bottle contained 35,000 postcards from people appealing to the government to promote the right to water in the national and international political arena.
One of the most prominent non-governmental organization groupings was the Citizens United for Renewable Energy and Sustainability network, otherwise known as CURES. CURES is intended to act as a united grouping of international organizations so as to coordinate activities and involvement through specific international events and conferences. As such, CURES will follow the resulting activities and outcomes from Renewables 2004 through negotiations leading to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development meetings over 2006/7.
One of the liveliest and perhaps the most illuminating of the many events was the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue. It was seen as an important and critical instrument for a transparent conference, enabling a wide range of interest groups to be involved. These stakeholders included representatives from non-governmental organizations, actors in the fields of development cooperation and poverty alleviation, representatives from municipalities and regional bodies and unions and financial sectors, as well as manufacturers and suppliers to the renewable energies sector.
It was observed that 'transparent dialogue' such as this should be undertaken much more frequently with as broad a range of stakeholders as possible if the development in the use of renewable energies is to make any significant impact on the global arena.
On the Web
General Electric plans to cut solar installation costs by half
Project 90 by 2030 supports South African school children and managers reduce their carbon footprint through its Club programme
Bath & North East Somerset Council in the United Kingdom has installed smart LED carriageway lighting that automatically adjusts to light and traffic levels
The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the American Public Gardens Association are mounting an educational exhibit at Longwood Gardens showing the link between temperature and planting zones
The energy-efficient Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers hotel is powered by renewable and sustainable sources, including integrated solar photovoltaics and guest-powered bicycles
El Hierro, one of the Canary Islands, plans to generate 80 per cent of its energy from renewable sources
The green roof on the Remarkables Primary School in New Zealand reduces stormwater runoff, provides insulation and doubles as an outdoor classroom
The Weather Info for All project aims to roll out up to five thousand automatic weather observation stations throughout Africa
SolSource turns its own waste heat into electricity or stores it in thermal fabrics, harnessing the sun's energy for cooking and electricity for low-income families
The Wave House uses vegetation for its architectural and environmental qualities, and especially in terms of thermal insulation
The Mbale compost-processing plant in Uganda produces cheaper fertilizer and reduces greenhouse gas emissions
At Casa Grande, Frito-Lay has reduced energy consumption by nearly a fifth since 2006 by, amongst other things, installing a heat recovery system to preheat cooking oil