Development needs sustainable energy

Wind power park, Brazil

The international community faces a major challenge. The development of energy sup­ply in developing coun­tries is a key pre­re­qui­site to suc­cess­ful poverty reduc­tion and achieve­ment of the Mil­len­nium Development Goals (MDGs). At the same time, firm measures must be taken to reduce global energy consumption and hold back climate change.

Global energy consumption is rising – a radical change in energy policy is needed

So far it has been the industrialised countries that have consumed the largest share of oil, coal and gas. However, the share of these fuels being consumed by developing and emerging countries is rising. According to a study prepared by the International Energy Agency (IEA), unless global energy and climate policy changes the demand for energy will increase by more than half by the year 2030. Deve­lop­ing countries will be responsible for almost ninety per cent of this increase, more than half of which will be attributable to India and China alone.

According to IEA this trend can be reversed – provided that policy­makers develop intelligent energy policy strategies and implement these resolutely. A great deal can be achieved in the short term by improving the efficiency of existing energy systems.

Only the development of a climate-friendly energy system can pro­vide a long-term solution, however. To achieve this, the world must overcome its dependency on fossil fuels as quickly as possible – a fuel source that will in any case be exhausted within the foreseeable future. Alternative strategies will involve the use of renewable sources of energy such as the sun, water, wind, geothermal energy and biomass.

Renewable energies are gaining ground. Since 2004 the installed power plant capacity for generating electricity from renewable energy sources has risen by 75 per cent to 280 gigawatts. More than half the USD 250 billion invested in new power generation capacities worldwide in 2008 involved renewable energies.

To speed up the global development of renewable energies, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) was established in early 2009. An inter­natio­nal mouthpiece for renewable energy, IRENA is becoming one of the driving forces behind the shift in global energy policy toward sustainable energy supply.

Today's energy supply problems, and climate change, have so far been caused largely by the industrialised countries. These countries now bear a major responsibility for establishing a sustainable energy system worldwide. The funds and the power of innovation needed for this are available.

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