Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Investment in renewables is 'green gold rush': UN

ABC Online, Posted 4 hours 26 minutes ago

In what is being called a "green gold rush," global investment in renewable energy have surged some 60 per cent to $155 billion in 2007, a United Nations agency says.

Buoyed by soaring fossil-fuel prices and concerns over the carbon dioxide emissions that fuel global warming, investment in clean energy from sources like wind, solar and biofuels last year rose three times faster then predicted by the UN Environmental Program (UNEP).

"Just as thousands were drawn to California and the Klondike in the late 1800s, the green energy gold rush is attracting legions of modern day prospectors in all parts of the globe," Achim Steiner, head of UNEP said.

"Clean energy in one of the strongest sectors in the world in terms of investment activity," New Energy Finance chief executive Michael Liebreich said, one of the authors of the report.

Wind power attracted the most capital last year at $53 billion - a third of all clean energy investment, UNEP's Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2008 report says.

By March this year, global installed wind capacity exceeded 100 gigawatts - enough to power around 75 million homes.

Investment in solar energy soared by 254 per cent to $30 billion last year, while the biofuel sector foundered with funds falling nearly one third to $2.2 billion, the report says.

Overall, clean energy accounted for 23 per cent of all new installed capacity in 2007.

The report says public investment in renewable energy via the markets more than doubled to $24.5 billion since 2006.

The renewable energy sector is expected to grow to $472 billion in 2012, and up to $629 billion by 2020, UNEP says.

"We have a significant economic signal here, that goes well beyond what, 10 years ago, energy think-tanks or international financial institutions thought would happen," Mr Steiner said.

Developing nations like China, which recently surpassed the United States as the world's top emitter, are being encouraged by rich countries to embrace renewable energy and adopt binding emissions targets under a new international climate pact.

The Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period expires in 2012, and governments are now racing to negotiate a new agreement that they hope to have in place by the UN's climate talks next year.

"The (UNEP report's) findings should empower governments - both north and south - to reach a deep and meaningful new agreement by the crucial climate convention meeting in Copenhagen in late 2009," Mr Steiner said.

- Reuters

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