Margaret Beckett
outlines a new initiative to break down barriers to increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewables

A low-carbon economy is attainable. All countries need to have the serious intention to move towards it and thus enhance our collective energy security.

We in the United Kingdom have already taken a major step. In February 2003 we published our Energy White Paper – the United Kingdom’s first comprehensive forward-looking statement of energy policy in over 20 years, acknowledging the fundamental interdependence of economic growth, social progress and environmental objectives. A long-term strategy, its key aim is a 60 per cent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by about 2050.

But a global low-carbon economy will not be realized just because the United Kingdom and some like-minded countries wish it. Global participation is essential and governments cannot deliver it alone. Policy makers, business and civil society need to work closely together to deliver the changes we need.

Last year at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development, I launched the idea of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership, (REEEP), founded by a group of governments, businesses and non-governmental organizations who felt that partnership was crucial to delivering the sustainable energy commitments we all agreed at the Summit.

I believe it to be a key vehicle for turning such commitments into positive outcomes, harnessing the best ideas from across the globe to achieve just this.

Overcoming barriers
Efficient energy use will be essential. Through the REEEP, our experience and those of many other countries in implementing energy efficiency policies and programmes can benefit all. We in the United Kingdom very much look forward to learning from the experience of others.

We also need an urgent and substantial increase in the use of renewable energy sources. Through the REEEP we can work together to achieve this.

Barriers to the uptake of renewable and energy efficiency technologies remain: inappropriate policies, subsidies and structural arrangements; problems in accessing finance; and a lack of human and institutional capacity. Overcoming them requires concerted effort from governments, businesses, financial institutions and the rest of civil society. The REEEP can help channel this activity at a regional and a global level, ensuring that climate-friendly policies go hand in hand with economic growth, poverty reduction and respect for the varied needs of developing countries.

We need to deliver increased energy efficiency and use of renewable energy. More technological development and international cooperation can help. We need a global partnership of governments, businesses and other stakeholders working together to foster market growth in renewable and energy efficiency technologies and striving to remove policy, technical, market and regulatory barriers to it. Climate-friendly technologies can help create a competitive and sustainable economy, while showing that ambitious and long-term targets on climate change are achievable.

Partners in the REEEP will work in three main areas:

  • Identifying and removing market barriers. These will be different depending on location, so the REEEP has an important regional dimension. A network of regulators – or a series of networks – is likely to be one of its early achievements.

  • Helping to match finance with innovative renewable and energy efficiency projects. By facilitating links between business and other innovators, REEEP partners will promote sustainable energy projects at the national and regional level – such as the development of energy services markets, tradable renewable energy certificate schemes and the European Union carbon emissions trading scheme.

  • Having an important communications role, promoting and explaining the benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency to international organizations, governments, regulators, business and other key stakeholders.

Opening doors
As a global partnership, the REEEP offers an opportunity to influence the future direction of a new and expanding market and a unique access to key policy makers and regulators. It opens doors to new technology and the opportunity for innovations to be shared globally. It provides the chance to evaluate options against what has worked – and what has not – in different countries and regions.

It has already demonstrated its worth. A regional plan was drawn up at a recent REEEP partners meeting in Beijing to enable countries to work together to deliver energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy.

A global low-carbon economy is within our grasp. But we need to work together to achieve it, to reduce costs and share knowledge, experience and practice. The REEEP will play a vital role in helping us to get there 

Margaret Beckett is Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, United Kingdom.

Additional resources: REEP in the News


This issue:
Contents | Editorial | Key to development | The energy challenge | Plant power | Bioenergy: doing well while doing right | New energy for development | People | Delivering Change | Benign growth | Green energy | At a glance: Energy | Sustainable Dreams | Brightening the future | Greening oil | Blue-sky thinking | Books & products | New energy to assault poverty | New energy entrepreneurs | Time to get serious | Breaking the ice | In my lifetime – 100% renewable| Slimming the waste

Complementary issues:
WSSD, 2002
Energy, 2001
Disasters, 2001
Climate and Action, 1998

AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment:
Natural Resources
Air Pollution
Climate Change

AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment:
Population, waste and chemicals