|Integrated Clean Energy for Peace and Climate|
Bilateral and multilateral donors will supply the funds for the installation of 100% Integrated Clean Energy economies in the small island developing states. Their support will be forthcoming under two related international agreements. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed at the 1992 United Nations Conference for Environment and Development (the Earth Summit) in Rio centers on two primary ideas:
1. The industrial countries of the world have polluted the atmosphere with greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide, by burning fossil fuels. The resulting climate changes and sea level rise are predicted to cause extensive and expensive impacts everywhere on Earth.
2. All nations must reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Two years after the Earth Summit, the United Nations convened the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, Bridgetown, Barbados, 21-22 April 1994. The island nations had formed the Alliance for Small Island Developing States (AOSIS), a powerful voting block in the United Nations with 36 small island nations and various supporting nations (especially China). AOSIS targeted the adverse impacts of climate change and pointed out that the small island states were victims of the atmospheric pollution caused by the large industrial nations. The Barbados Programme of Action set out a series of actions to assist the sustainable development of the small island states and the industrial nations agreed to provide new and substantial funding and technology transfer to assist the Programme of Action.
In September, 1999 the 22nd Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly accused the industrial nations of breaking their promise for new and substantial funding to the small island states. The industrial nations agreed again to provide more substantial funding and technology transfer. The review specifically targeted renewable energy economies as a key development area.
In April, 2000, at a United Nations sub-regional meeting of the Pacific island countries in Vanuatu, the Pacific island nations again emphasized the importance of climate change but this time they specified that their primary concern was to convert their own oil-dependent economies into renewable energy economies.
Their new concept also specifies that if the industrial countries provide the funding to set up renewable energy based economies on every inhabited Pacific island, this funding will benefit the renewable energy manufacturing base, allowing these industries to achieve an economy of scale as well as an economically efficient networking of renewable energy components. This, in turn, will assist the industrial nations in overcoming their own oil dependency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions in accordance with their obligations under the 1992 Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol.
These events will serve to focus donor attention on Integrated Clean Energy economies as a key initiative for substantial new funding and technology transfer. Key associates, including AOSIS, will continue to highlight the need for renewable energy and its advantages to both the small island states and the donor countries.
The Global Environment Fund (GEF) is the agency that is supposed to fund the sustainable development initiatives of the UNCED and Barbados conferences. Creating island-wide energy systems fits perfectly with the World Bank activities on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions abatement. Their strategies target the "real" sectors: especially energy, but also transport, infrastructure and urban services.
The World Banks recently adopted Energy-Environment Strategy assigns high priority to environmental health impacts on the rural and urban poor. Hence, it stresses the provision of basic modern energy services to the rural poor and peri-urban populations. This would involve substitution of low quality biomass fuels by more efficient modern fuels or substituting centralized fossil fuel electricity generation by off-grid renewable systems.
The World Bank-GEF Renewable Energy Strategic Partnership aims to shift the programming of GEF resources for renewable energy from one-off project components to large-scale, long-term renewable energy programs. Countries as diverse as China and Uganda are now formulating specific renewables investment programs for presentation to the GEF Council beginning in May of 2000.
While there are substantial funds available from the GEF, bilateral donors will be the primary target for the ICE-PAC initiative.
Australia is the largest aid donor to the Pacific islands. In February 2000, in association with France, Australia set up a Pacific Renewable Energy Programme at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in Noumea. The program will assist the Pacific island countries to reduce emissions through fuel switching, improved energy efficiency measures and the increased use of renewable energy to meet rising energy demands. The Coordinator of the Regional Australia-France Rural Renewable Energy Program said:
Our approach is to treat renewable energy as a tool to meet the demand for sustainable development and better living conditions rather than just as a power source for rural folks.
Japan, totally dependent on imported oil, is a major player in the global hydrogen development program and a major donor to Pacific islands especially for projects that require construction and technology transfer.. They organized the World Hydrogen Net to foster international development of hydrogen technology and renewable energies. Japan is very aware of the financial potential for these technologies and will certainly see the advantages of having functioning examples of hydrogen economies to promote their own industries.
The European Union is establishing a new development assistance program for the ACP. The EU is the 8th largest supplier of aid. The eight Pacific islands in the EU treaty are Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Six more are planning to join. The new program will provide 15.2 billion Euros (about US$14,000 million) over the next 20 years. According to the EU representative for the Pacific:
"We are looking where possible to move towards budgetary aid and away from projects. In Tuvalu we already use the government's existing arrangements for the finance we have available for the activities we want to support rather than ourselves going out and engaging contractors. That's a major departure and one that will have to be looked at rather carefully depending on the situation."
"A second feature, looking at the ACP as a whole, is that we are concerned to support debt relief."
The ICE-PAC initiative will reduce or eliminate the continuing and growing cost of importing oil that now makes up from 20 to 40 percent of national debts. It will also provide energy for rural areas and lower costs of energy for development needs throughout the region.
"A third feature is the role of the private sector. Nowadays, we see this as being critical to the long-term development of a country. We want to encourage commercial enterprise."
"The new convention will contain just two financial instruments in place of many. The idea is to bring in non-state outfits were appropriate; to bring in civil societies. This is linked with the idea of decentralisation. It can mean that when we devise a programme we take account of those who are going to be affected by it, and not focus simply on the actual investment itself, but involve others who also have an involvement in the particular thing."