Governments agree treaty for global renewables agency

Fifty-one governments worldwide have agreed on a treaty for a new international body that aims to speed up the uptake of renewable energy on a global scale. The governments, led by Germany, Spain and Denmark, met in Madrid to finalise the structure of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). They agreed to the scope of IRENA's initial activities and its financial basis, which will be through mandatory and voluntary contributions of member countries. The agency is to be formally founded on January 26 in Bonn, Germany. It aims to provide practical advice and support for industrialised and developing countries, helping them improve regulatory frameworks and building capacity. "Mandated by governments all over the world, IRENA aims to become the main driving force in promoting a swift transition towards the extensive and sustainable use of renewable energy worldwide," says Hermann Scheer, a member of the German parliament. He has been pushing for IRENA to be set up. Its establishment is long overdue, he says; only a few countries worldwide are prepared politically and economically for a switch from conventional to renewable energies. "They have to catch up very fast now." International agencies for fossil fuels and nuclear have existed for years, but none for renewables, he points out. "IRENA will close this gap."