Friday, March 9, 2012

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres calls for an “energy revolution”

New technologies and the involvement of the private sector are needed to tackle climate change emissions and power the world said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in a lecture today. “Don’t depend on governments,” she said, “because they can’t deliver 100%.”

“We are moving in the direction of a low carbon society – but not fast enough,” she said. The worldpassing the (US) $1 trillion mark in clean energy investments in technologies such as solar and wind power plants and bioenergy production since 2004, shows that we’re on the way, she said.

“We can all see the evidence of climate change,” Figueres said, warning that rises in greenhouse gases had the potential to undo international development gains made. Rio+20, the upcoming UN conference on Sustainable Development, will be a “very powerful force of wind in the sail” to help the economies of developing countries grow, but this growth needed to happen with a lower carbon footprint than developed countries.

In response to a question posed by Antigua’s High Commissioner on how the country could move off the “path” of fossil fuel dependence she said it could produce lots of solar and wind energy if the technologies weren’t so prohibitively expensive. Co-operation between the public and private sector to develop cheaper renewable technologies and technology transfer to southern countries are critical to making this happen, Figueres said.

Whether America led on the development of renewable energy technologies was a pressing question. Was “the US electorate …willing to let history ..progress in such as way that …China or Europe will benefit from the competitive edge [of developing renewable technologies], or would they prefer to be the leaders of technology?” Referring to the current Republican presidential primary candidates she said: “If they have anything in common it is that they say they don’t believe in climate change.” More


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