Our Planet, December 2008 Page: 3
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by Achim Steiner,
U.N. Under-Secretary-General and
Executive Director, UNEP
A chill wind has blown through international stock markets, and renewable
energy companies have not been immune. A global index of solar stocks, the
Claymore/MAC index, fell by over 50 per cent between April - when it started
trading - and early November, while the New Energy Global Innovation
Index fell by a huge 45 per cent in October alone.
Some have drawn parallels with the dot.com bubble when Internet start-up
companies, based on marketing rather than real markets, came and went
like mayflies. But this ignores hard and fast fundamentals that should make
renewable energy companies far more robust and lasting.
The main driving force, climate change - unlike the stock markets -
has steadily grown, not waxed and waned. Scientists studying ice cores
in Antarctica estimate that greenhouse gases are now at their highest
concentration for 800,000 years.
Serious long-term government commitments are emerging, partly as a result
of the Kyoto Protocol and in anticipation of deeper and more comprehensive
deal in Copenhagen in 2009. The European Union wants to generate 20
per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, up from just over
6 per cent in 2005. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced a
big expansion of wind power - 7,000 turbines on- and off-shore. The U.S.
government recently passed the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax
Credit, extending support for wind power by a year and for geothermal and
solar power by two and eight respectively. And in the run-up to the elections,
President-elect Obama pledged to invest $150 billion in clean energy over
the next 10 years, generating five million jobs.
Meanwhile Clean Development Mechanism projects, now numbering over
three thousand, appear unaffected by the financial crisis: new resources are
being found and exploited daily, it seems. Countries like Mali and Madagascar,
once outside the mechanism, are now accessing it, partly as a result of UN-
linked capacity building. And renewables remain the fastest, most cost-
effective and most environmentally friendly solution for many of the two
billion people still without access to modern energy.
A recent survey in Ghana - part of UNEP and the Global Environment
Facility's Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment - has found 100
square kilometres of good windy land able to generate 500 megawatts of
electricity or 10 per cent of the country's needs. And a consortium including
elL " W'
a Dutch multinational, the German Wind Energy Institute and local investors
are planning a 300 megawatts wind farm in Turkana, northern Kenya.
Renewable energy companies are no longer small start-ups. Suntech Power,
headquartered in Wuxi, China - the world's biggest solar manufacturer -
has a market capitalization of $3.5 billion; First Solar in the United States has
one of $11.3 billion.
The economic models of the 20th century are now hitting the limits of what
is possible - both in terms of our ecological footprint and in delivering
better livelihoods for the 2.6 billion people still living on less than $2 a day.
Investments will soon be pouring back into the global economy. Will they
go into yesterday's old, extractive, short-term economy or into a new Green
Economy that will deal with today's challenges and generate countless
economic opportunities for poor and well-off alike? Renewable energy
generates three to five times more jobs than fossil fuel generation and its
ecological footprint is infinitely smaller.
This edition of Our Planet marks the climate convention meeting in Poznan,
which must be central to the transition to a low carbon, green energy
economy. Strategies for long-term cooperative action on climate change
must be fleshed out alongside the financial architecture needed to boost
investments in renewables and other sectors. Directing the multi-billion
stimulus packages being lined up by governments, allied to a reshaping and
refocusing of global markets, can assist success.
However the biggest stimulus package of all - which could set the stage for
sustainable growth in the 21st century - must come in Copenhagen next
year. If the international community can make this a big deal in every sense of
the word, we will be a long way to a Global Green New Deal that will meet the
genuine development needs of 6.7 - rising to 9 - billion people.
aims to reduce UN .Psron foopit
Cover photo ADRIAN WILSON / Beateworks / Corbis. 'New Green Deal' is the phrase on the lips of world leaders on the
eve of the December 2008 climate change negotiations in Poznan, Poland. With economies in turmoil around the world, and
global warming firmly installed at the top of the international political agenda, the development of renewable and clean
energy options looks like a classic 'win-win-win' situation: curbing greenhouse gas emissions, addressing growing concern
over energy security, and providing new employment opportunities for millions. This issue of Our Planet explains how.
OUR PLANET AERATING POWER, JOBS AND DEVELOPMEN
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United Nations Environment Programme. Our Planet, December 2008, periodical, December 2008; Nairobi, Kenya. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28531/m1/3/: accessed November 12, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .