to development

Gerhard Schroeder
says that sustainable energy supplies are essential to combat poverty, prevent crises and conflicts and safeguard natural resources

Around a third of the world’s population lacks adequate access to energy supplies. Improving this situation provides one of the major challenges for future-oriented policy at the start of the 21st century. Germany is participating in efforts to facilitate sustainable energy supplies all over the world. We expressed this in particular at the Johannesburg World Summit in September 2002 by announcing concrete programmes, which sent out a strong signal to the international community. Sustainable energy supplies are essential to combat poverty, to prevent crises and conflicts and to safeguard natural resources.

Yet, we are still a long way from achieving this goal. The quarter of the world’s population that lives in the northern industrialized countries accounts for three quarters of the global consumption of resources. At the same time, these countries are the source of three quarters of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – with their effects on the global climate. In the next decades there is also expected to be a steep rise in energy consumption in the developing countries. Energy efficiency levels in those countries – as well as in some industrialized countries – are low. This is another reason for the rapidly growing danger posed to the global climate by CO2 emissions. To put it simply, sustainable energy supplies can only mean one thing: improving energy efficiency combined with renewable energy use.

Therefore, developing and industrialized countries bear joint responsibility. The industrialized countries must adopt new approaches in industry and society in the pursuit of energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energies. For their part, the developing countries must be given the opportunity to develop a sustainable future for themselves to free them from long-term dependence on less sustainable energy forms. It was for such reasons that the states participating at the Johannesburg Summit agreed that the fights against poverty and for access to sustainable energy must go hand in hand. The European Union and several additional countries joined together in a group of like-minded countries to commit themselves to timetables and targets for increasing the use of renewable energies.

Strategic partnership
The Federal Government of Germany also announced in Johannesburg that it would turn its cooperation with developing countries into a strategic partnership under a programme of Sustainable Energy for Development. Over the next five years a total of EUR1 billion (approximately $1.17 billion) will be made available for this purpose – 500 million for renewable energies and 500 million for improving energy efficiency. In providing this money we will be helping the developing countries to make energy more efficient and climate friendly.
Developing and industrialized countries bear joint responsibility... the fights against poverty and for access to sustainable energy must go hand in hand
For example, a project financed by Germany is promoting the development of energy consulting, the introduction of energy audits and the use of energy-saving technologies in India. There, electricity is both in short supply and expensive. Energy-intensive production methods only drive up company costs. By introducing more efficient processes, industry and small businesses could save 10 to 20 per cent of their energy costs. As for the impact on climate change, it would mean 15 million fewer tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. Several demonstration plants are showing how effective such measures are and how energy conservation not only helps protect our climate but also increases competitiveness.

Support for renewable energies
I have issued an invitation to an international conference on renewable energies to be held in Bonn in June 2004. ‘Renewables 2004’ will focus on strategies and measures to provide active support for renewable energies, removing barriers to the expansion of renewable energies and developing markets for them around the world. The conference aspires to commitments to national and regional targets, the adoption of an international action plan and the drawing up of guidelines for good policies in the energy sector. I am hopeful that the conference will stimulate a new dynamism in the worldwide development and expansion of renewable energies.

Sustainable energy supplies are a long-term goal. Germany is playing its part to that end. Today, we are already leading the industrialized countries in terms of energy efficiency, but we have set ourselves still higher standards in our national sustainability strategy. By 2020 we intend to double our energy productivity levels of 1990.

Germany is also making good progress in the expansion of renewable energy. Wind energy is playing a major role in this. Indeed, one third of the world’s wind power is now generated in Germany. Accordingly the economic significance has increased: around 130,000 people are employed in the renewable energies sector here, especially in small and medium-sized businesses. The goal of the Federal Government is to raise the proportion of renewable energy used in power generation to 12.5 per cent by 2010, thus doubling the share it had in 2000.

Sustainable prosperity
In this way, we are developing a model of growth and prosperity that is sustainable because it is not at the expense of the environment, future generations or the developing countries. Because we cannot call on the developing countries to make careful use of the resources that they have at their disposal if we, the richest countries in the world, are not prepared to contribute the groundwork. It must be our common goal that successful economic development and the reduction of poverty can be combined with the protection of natural resources, in the developing countries as well as the industrialized ones

Gerhard Schroeder is Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.

PHOTOGRAPH: Tim  J. Johnson/UNEP/Topham

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
Transport and Comunications, 2001
Climate and Action, 1998
Climate Change, 1997

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