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EWEA's Opinion

Local governments and private money can drive the green energy revolution

19.01.2010

While any future international agreement on limiting and reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning fossil fuels will have to be brokered by politicians and Heads of State, it is the private sector that will drive the inevitable growth towards a much-needed green energy revolution.

That message was raised again last week when investors representing $13 trillion in assets called on US and other global policy makers to quickly take action on carbon emission limits, energy efficiency, renewable energy, financing mechanisms and other policies that will accelerate clean energy investment and job creation.

A statement announced at the Investor Summit on Climate Risk, a New York meeting of 450 global investors at the United Nations, noted there are many competitive advantages for nations with strong and transparent climate and energy policies.

“Germany’s comprehensive policies, for example, have sparked significant private investment in industries focused on addressing climate change, leading to eight times more renewable energy jobs per capita than the United States,” the investor statement says, adding about 85% of the financial resources necessary to cope with global warming will likely come from the private sector.

Held less than a month after the disappointing UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, last week’s meeting was told that investors need local and national governments to create a sense of certainty and transparency before they will begin funding the green energy revolution.

As a result, the investor statement called on national governments to, among other things, adopt or support short- and long-term carbon emission reduction targets, an effective price on carbon emissions that helps shift investment towards low-carbon solutions, energy and transportation measures to accelerate deployment of energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean vehicles and fuels, and new financing mechanisms that can mobilize private-sector investment on a large scale.

“Given that Copenhagen was a missed opportunity to create one fully functional international carbon market, it is more important than ever that individual governments implement regional and domestic policy change to stimulate the creation of a low-carbon economy,” said Peter Dunsombe, chairman of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, a network of European investors. “Time is of the essence and world leaders from both developed and developing countries need to act now to compensate for the lack of progress at an international level."  

The investor statement also calls on international negotiators to adopt a legally-binding agreement this year with comprehensive long-term measures for carbon reductions; forest protection, adaptation to warming temperatures, finance and technology transfer.

By Chris Rose, EWEA




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