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Ways to secure sustainable policies and investments to allow a shift towards a low-carbon "green economy" driven by "green industry" are the focus of the Vienna international energy conference that opened in the Austrian capital today.
The three-day event, "Towards an Integrated Energy Agenda Beyond 2020", was organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Government of Austria, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy. It brings together more than 500 government officials, energy and economics experts, and civil society representatives from around the world.
"The current global financial and economic crisis must be used to our advantage to bring about a green energy revolution. This conference was designed to provide a solid framework that would show the way towards a low-carbon global 'green economy' powered by 'green industry'. Promoting domestic and international policies that encourage green investment in the next decade should be a major priority for a climate deal to be concluded in Copenhagen," said UNIDO Director-General, Kandeh K. Yumkella.
He was referring to the United Nations climate change conference taking place in Copenhagen in December where countries are expected to "seal the deal" on a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions targets.
Rajendra Pachauri of India, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, said that energy remained the "missing Millennium Development Goal". "Providing an adequate supply of energy to the poor should be a key priority. Without it there can be no talk about eliminating poverty in the world," added Pachauri.
Austrian Foreign Minister, Michael Spindelegger, reminded that the conference marked the tenth anniversary of the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy, which facilitates dialogue between key players and encourages public-private cooperation in the field of sustainable energy.
"Vienna has become a dynamic hub for international efforts to promote peace, security and sustainable energy," added Spindelegger. "This conference reflects the strong commitment of Vienna based organisations to make the city of Vienna an international centre of excellence in bringing forward the sustainable energy agenda."
He also underlined the fact that Austrian science, technology institutions and companies are known to be at the leading edge of renewable energies and energy efficiency. The Austrian Development Cooperation has been supporting renewable energy projects in developing countries for many years.
IIASA will present the highlights of the Global Energy Assessment (GEA), the most comprehensive and integrated analysis of global energy challenges ever undertaken. The GEA addresses energy access, climate change, security and investment issues simultaneously.
"We are facing a convergence of challenges that require a fundamental transformation of energy systems, 'business-as- usual' solutions are not an option," said IIASA Director, Detlof von Winterfeldt. "The magnitude, pace, and scale of the impact of climate change is greater than predicted even as recently as a couple of years ago - the need to respond to this change is urgent."
He said it was untenable that today 2.4 billion people were without access to modern energy services. GEA early findings suggest that the cost of providing modern energy services for all is not only achievable but affordable in the medium term, if the political will exists.
"Current investment in energy is in the order of $US 350 billion per annum; over $US 100 billion of this investment is in renewable energy. Whilst investment has been steadily increasing, the reality is that a three-fold increase is needed. We have an opportunity in the several stimulus packages introduced by many countries in response to the global financial and economic crisis," added von Winterfeldt.
Participants will also discuss the role of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which will advise industrialized and developing countries on how to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels by promoting the rapid adoption of renewable energy worldwide.
For further information, please contact:
George Assaf, UNIDO Spokesperson
g.assaf(at)unido.org tel. +43 1 26026 3849
Leane Regan, IIASA Communications Department
regan(at)iiasa.ac.at mobile +43 6644 430 368
Gertraud Findl, Austrian Development Agency
gertraud.findl(at)ada.gv.at tel. +43 1 90 3 99-2412