@WorldChanging - New International Body to Promote Renewable Energy
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by Jen Biederman on 02/01/2009
WorldChanging.com Articles: Tools, Models and Ideas for Building a Better Future.
Fifty-five governments have said they will commit themselves to full membership of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), at its founding conference in Bonn today. A total of 116 countries will take part.
The US has not joined, but is widely expected to do so under the new administration. Britain, however, has not signed up to Irena, although it is understood to be sending officials as observers.
Officials in the new Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said: "We are certainly supportive and are interested in joining but we need to make sure that what we're joining has the right focus. There needs to be more focus on the deployment of renewables rather than just talking policy and issuing papers - and there needs to be a wider membership."
The DECC is hyper-sensitive to persistent criticism that Britain is dragging its feet on renewable energy and clinging to old coal - and gas-fired - generating plants to prevent the lights going out in the middle of the next decade.
Headed by Ed Miliband, the department wants to see the US and Asian countries such as China and Japan indicate they will join too before it signs up to Irena.
Irena aims to help both developing and industrialised countries transfer to renewable energy with practical advice to those who lack the knowhow.
Its founders see it as an institutional counterbalance to the International Energy Agency which has been accused of not doing enough to promote alternative energy. Irena's initiator, Hermann Scheer, who is president of the World Council for Renewable Energy and a German MP, told the Guardian: "Irena is the single-most important step for a speedy global introduction of renewable energies. It will give an enormous push to the use of renewables around the globe."