New international partnership – the REEEP – to help deliver success on climate change
by Dr. Denis MacShane, British Foreign Office Minister
No one should doubt the UK government’s commitment to taking action against climate change. Our intention to put the UK on a path to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 60% by 2050 - with real progress by 2020 – is well known. Within the UK we are undertaking a series of bold measures – some of which are outlined by the Carbon Trust’s Tom Delay in this edie report – to ensure the transition to a low carbon economy.
A year later - after extensive consultations with its constituent partners in governments, businesses and NGOs, in Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia - REEEP is to launch as a global policy network in London on October 23rd.
The Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, will join colleagues from Europe and beyond to unveil the programme for promoting sustainable energy. Not just to combat climate change, but as a sound business investment. REEEP is proving that new energy technologies are vital to innovation, competitiveness, reliability, energy security and economic growth.
In Central Europe, REEEP has established that increased energy efficiency will help prepare new EU member states for the rigours of the single European market. By drawing on its partners’ global experience and expertise, REEEP will work to help establish the right policy frameworks within which energy efficiency can be increased.
But in Africa – which barely accounts for 1% of GHG emissions -REEEP has different priorities. The price volatility of its hydrocarbon imports has played havoc with Africa’s economies. REEEP’s support for proven renewable technologies, such as solar water heating and co-generation, will help improve peoples’ access to energy. As Stephen Karekezi, director of the African Energy Policy Research Network and facilitator of REEEP’s East African consultations, said at the June REEEP summit in Nairobi:
“REEEP will give access to as broad a range of experiences as possible so that energy policy makers can see that low risk sustainable energy solutions are available. In Eastern Africa, we aim to increase the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency by stressing their economic benefits such as job creation, lower energy costs and import bills.”
His REEEP partner in Ghana, Kwame Ampofo MP, made a similar point: “REEEP will help us to establish a policy framework which recognises the true costs of imported energy, in contrast to cheaper locally produced renewable power.”
In Latin American and Asia too, REEEP’s partners are expanding the use of sustainable energy technologies. In Brazil, REEEP is funding a project to use photovoltaic sustainable power to pump water from 13,000 existing wells in drought-stricken north-eastern Brazil.
India has demonstrated an impressive commitment to renewables and energy efficiency, establishing a dedicated ministry in 1992, long before many of us in the northern hemisphere fully appreciated their significance. I am delighted that India’s partnership in REEEP will bring knowledge and experience to us all.
The prominent role played by REEEP partners from the southern as well as northern hemispheres, demonstrates that renewable energy and energy efficiency are critically important to developed and developing countries alike. India’s success in exporting wind turbines - not only to its neighbours but also to the United States - reflects determination to capitalise on a growing market. By helping facilitate the growth of this market, REEEP partners are making sure they do not miss out.
The ability to draw on its partners’ strengths and resources is the key to REEEP’s growing success. REEEP works closely with our EU colleagues. Next year’s World Conference on Renewable Energy in Bonn will be a tremendous opportunity for us all to further REEEP goals. The Global Village Energy Partnership and the EU Energy Initiative for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development are also excellent programmes.
And it is important that collaboration between these initiatives continues and deepens to ensure that we are all, indeed, pulling in the same direction.
Let me stress that we in the UK have as much to learn from such policy collaboration as anyone. Our Danish, Dutch, German and Spanish colleagues produce a higher proportion of electricity from renewables than we do. That is why we have set a target of providing 10% of electricity supplied from renewable sources by 2010 and announced our intention to double the proportion by 2020. We also intend to increase our energy efficiency and hope to match the levels of our European colleagues, particularly those in Scandinavia.
Too often, renewable and energy efficient technologies are seen as futuristic or immature. The fact is that in many instances current technologies are proven. REEEP is about bringing together all the different actions needed to make a successful project: innovations, entrepreneurs, financing and regulations. Through REEEP, they can identify common interests and solutions to shared problems. Together REEEP partners can get renewables and energy efficiency to a business footing - and help to tackle climate change.