for shift towards Low-carbon Green Industries
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 Energy Conference that opened in Vienna on June 22.
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. More than 500 government officials, energy and
economics experts, and civil society representatives from around the
world, attended the conference.
“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.
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
“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.
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.
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 $US350billion per
annum; over $US100billion 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 also discussed 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.