|Sustainable Energy News - No. 33 - May 2001 - Energy, Litmus Test for Rio+10? - School Theme (INFORSE, 2001, 20 p.)|
By Gunnar Boye Olesen
and Michael Kvetny,
NGOs have mixed feelings about the outcome of CSD9. Some proposals can support a sustainable development in energy, others could make the situation worse.
It took 9 years from the Rio conference in 1992 until the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD) took up a serious debate on energy. At the Rio conference, there was no consensus in favour of including sustainable energy in Agenda 21.
There was certainly not a lot of consensus either at the 9th Session of CSD (CSD9) when energy was on the agenda. As a symptom of this, the term "sustainable energy" was unacceptable to many developing countries. Instead, the text refers to "energy for sustainable development".
During the negotiations at CSD9, INFORSE co-operated with a number of other NGOs in the "NGO Energy & Climate Change Caucus" for CSD, and we were able to find common positions within the Caucus on all major questions. To get the NGO proposals into the official CSD9 document was another matter, and the results are in many ways not satisfactory. In spite of many nice words, there was little consensus among the countries to make a real push for energy efficiency and renewable energy. One of the main disappointments was that the reference to nuclear power stayed in the document, in spite of several countries previously stating that they preferred to see it out.
Energy is also proposed as an issue for next years World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in South Africa, but it is not decided yet if it will be on the agenda. The expectations are high for WSSD, or Rio+10 as it is usually referred to, but given the outcome of CSD9, positive results will not come easily.
Michael Kvetny and Gunnar Boye Olesen represented INFORSE at CSD9 in New York.
On the following pages (4 & 5) we highlight some of the positive and negative outcomes of CSD9.
These include just some of the key recommendations from the CSD9 document. Text in quotation marks (" ") is quoted directly from the document.
To see the full CSD9 document take a look at the official report at http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd9/csd9_2001.htm
See also the NGO Energy and Climate Caucus comments at: http://www.igc.org/csdngo/energy/ene_index.htm.
INFORSEs "Vision 2050" was presented at one of the side-events of CSD9 together with sustainable energy indicators. The vision, as discussed in Sustainable Energy News 32, is to realise a worldwide transition to renewable energy by 2050 and to provide adequate energy services to all. It was received well by the audience. Some were interested in participating in the coming development of the vision and the related scenario. The plan now is to develop the vision and scenario further in cooperation with interested INFORSE members and other NGOs. The results of this effort should be ready for presentation at the time of Rio+10. INFORSE intends to present aggregated scenarios for developed countries and for developing countries, as well as national scenarios for selected countries.
At the side event, the vision was discussed in conjunction with a set of indicators for sustainable energy, developed by Helio-International. The event was well chaired by Fatma Denton from ENDA Energies, Senegal.
For information about Vision 2050, see: www.inforse.org; about Helios indicators: www.helio-international.fr.
To participate in the development of Vision 2050, contact INFORSE, att. Michael Kvetny or Gunnar Boye Olesen.
World CO2 Emissions (MtC)/y, draft scenario, Vision 2050
Phase out of fossil fuels, emissions, and energy-related CO2 is an important part of Vision 2050.
In many ways, the 17-page CSD9 energy document brings energy issues into the framework of sustainable development and discusses many of the important issues related to sustainable energy development. While none of the proposals is new, several have been included for the first time in an international consensus document (though not a binding document, all CSD documents are un-binding).
In the document, it is recognised that "Current patterns of energy production, distribution, and utilisation are unsustainable", that "...nearly one third of the global population of six billion, mostly living in developing countries, continue to lack access to energy and transportation services", and that, "...to halve the proportion of people living on less than US$1 per day by 20105, access to affordable energy services is a prerequisite". It is proposed that countries integrate energy considerations, including energy-efficiency considerations, into other policies.
Support Efficiency and Renewables
Energy Efficiency - It is proposed that all countries strengthen or establish institutions and programmes for energy efficiency. This should include a strengthening of public-awareness programmes to mobilise all stakeholders for energy efficiency, and encouraging the transfer of energy efficiency technologies. It is also proposed to provide incentives for energy conservation.
Renewable Energy - It is proposed that all countries support increased use of renewable energies. Part of this should be to develop programmes, policies, and measures to create a supportive environment for renewable energy. Another part should be strengthening of information networks and public-awareness programmes on renewable energy sources and technologies. It is also proposed to encourage the transfer of environmentally sound and advanced technologies and to strengthen financial support to developing countries for the promotion of renewable energy.
To increase access to energy for those lacking it today is proposed to:
· Promote local energy enterprises and support local private entrepreneurs.
· Establish financial arrangements to make rural energy services affordable to the poor.
· Support local groups/NGOs in promotion and delivery of new environmentally sound technologies, including solar cooker technology.
· Promote rural community participation, and promote capacity-building in local societies.
· Promote efforts to address the disproportionate burdens experienced by women in rural areas (e.g., carrying fuel wood, adverse health effects from open fires).
Public Participation in Nuclear
While it is questionable to include nuclear at all in the text, a positive outcome is the recommendation to promote public participation in the areas of nuclear energy and waste management, and to improve the transparency of nuclear safety-related decisions.
The last part of the document deals with regional and worldwide cooperation. It proposes strengthening regional institutions to enhance cooperation on energy for sustainable development, in particular to assist developing countries. It also proposes strengthening regional and international networks of centers for research, development, and application of energy to sustainable development, and to strengthen regional capabilities to inform consumers on the benefits of energy efficiency. On an international level, the document proposes support for endeavours to promote equal access to and opportunities for women in relation to energy, including credit facilities and involvement in energy policy decision-making processes.
Unfortunately, the CSD9 energy document contains so many proposals for unsustainable energy sources and practices that it is problematic to refer to the CSD9 document, except for references to very specific points.
A major problem is that nuclear power is included in the context of energy for sustainable development. While most of the recommendations regarding nuclear power are reasonable, many NGOs fear that it will be misused by the nuclear industry to try to fund nuclear projects with the scarce funds for sustainable development. One nuclear recommendation is particular problematic: "Promote......... capacity-building of human resources, in the areas of nuclear energy.......". This will be an subsidy for nuclear power, if publicly financed.
Weak Definition of "Sustainable"
The introduction of the document includes a very weak sentence that could be held up as a definition of energy for sustainable development: "Energy for sustainable development can be achieved by providing universal access to a cost-effective mix of energy resources compatible with different needs and requirements of various countries and regions".
Fossils, the Big Winners
Promotion of advanced fossil fuel technologies (without clear definition) is included in parallel with promotion of energy efficiency and renewable energy. This goes throughout the document, and includes a number of questionable recommendations:
· Promote carbon capture and storage technologies.
· Develop and implement measures to make advanced fossil-fuel technologies more accessible and affordable (another way of subsidising fossil fuels?, authors comment).
· Strengthen regional cooperation agreements for promoting cross-border energy trade, including interconnection of electric grids and of oil and gas pipelines.
· Promote cooperation among concerned countries to improve development and production of hydro-carbon fields through integrated cost reduction, enhanced operational efficiency....
Missing Elements: Environmental & Social Damages
The environmental and social ills known to be caused by fossil fuels and large hydro are missing from the document. Among the missing elements are references to the Kyoto Protocol, and to the many environmental and social damages caused over the years by fossil-fuel extraction and by large dams. In spite of active involvement of many indigenous peoples organisations, representing people affected by oil and gas exploration, their problems are not mentioned in the final document. Also, the proposal of a moratorium for search for new sources of oil and gas, in particular in indigenous peoples areas, was omitted.
The proposal to phase out environmentally harmful subsidies is weak, and does not contain any timetable.
No New International Cooperation
Very little new international co-operation is proposed. The NGOs proposal for an International Sustainable Energy Agency was excluded. At the last moment was also dropped the proposal for a UN committee on energy for sustainable development, which appeared in the drafts. Only a reference to continuing the dialogue within the WSSD process remains.