G8 recommends more promotion of renewable energy in developing countries

Concerted international efforts could lead to an additional billion people -- largely in developing countries -- having access to renewable energy in the next decade, heads of government were told at the G8 Summit in Genoa in July. Presenting a report on renewable energy at the summit, co-chairmen to the G8 Task Force on Renewable Energy, Corrado Clini, Director-General of the Italian Ministry of Environment and Mark Moody-Stuart, former chairman of Royal Dutch/Shell Group, said action is needed from G8 and other countries to make renewable energy available to millions of people. "Renewable energy has great potential, particularly for people who have no electricity now, but it is very evident that there are some hurdles which have to be overcome to make it truly accessible," said Clini. Key barriers include the cost of renewables and inadequate financing, states the report. It recommends G8 countries should expand their own domestic renewables markets to drive costs down using their preferred market mechanisms. "Expansion of the renewable energy market in developed countries is essential to the development of commercial renewable energy in developing markets," said Moody-Stuart. Renewables must be part of energy policy of development programs undertaken with developing countries to build a strong market environment, advises the report. And it urges innovative financing -- particularly in developing countries -- such as micro-financing. The report also recommends encouraging market based mechanisms "to enhance renewables competitiveness." It suggests the International Energy Agency should evaluate the benefits of national renewable certificate trading schemes and look at closer international collaboration; and it advises G8 countries to support development of emissions trading and the two Kyoto tools: joint implementation and the clean development mechanism. Yet G8 failed to endorse the report at the Genoa summit. According to Utility Week, the United States is understood to have blocked the report's aims for renewables; it objects in particular to the recommendation that G8 countries should remove "supports for environmentally harmful energy technologies" and "implement market-based mechanisms that address externalities, enabling renewable energy technologies to compete in the market on a more fair and equal basis." The US and Canada are concerned this would harm their nuclear and coal programs. G8 energy ministers are to meet during the coming year to consider the report, among other issues.

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