Grounding Green Power: Launch Event May 25, 2011 / Washington, DC
On May 24th, GMF and the Heinrich Boell Foundation (HBF) hosted a roundtable discussion in Washington, DC around the launch of a new working paper on renewable energy in developing countries. The paper, Grounding Green Power, outlines the key components of smart renewable energy policy in developing countries, focusing on the electrical power sector. The paper was written by experts from the World Resources Institute (WRI) and published by GMF in cooperation with HBF and WRI. It suggests priorities for international donors looking to make the most efficient investments in clean energy. It was supported by the German government’s Transatlantic Climate Bridge initiative.The event brought together a set of diverse perspectives on the challenge of low-carbon growth in developing countries, where energy demand is expected to increase greatly over the coming decades. Manish Bapna, WRI Executive Vice President & Managing Director, and Lutz Weischer, Research Analyst at WRI, presented the paper. Nigel Purvis, GMF Senior Fellow moderated, and Klaus Linsenmeier, Director of HBF’s Washington, DC office, provided opening remarks.
Bapna and Weischer referred to case studies from 12 developing countries (Brazil, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, the Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Thailand) that showed how developing nations are already expanding their renewable energy capabilities even with minimal financing or other assistance from the United States or other industrialized countries. But they stressed that the rate of growth in the deployment of renewable energy in developing countries is insufficient to avoid dangerous climate change, and that a transition to a low-carbon energy future in these countries will still require significant technical assistance and financial resources. International public- and private-sector aid should be directed not just to individual projects but also to creating an enabling environment for private-sector investment, such as through helping governments create strong policies and legislation and providing funding for policies that subsidize the generation of electricity from renewable sources like small hydropower, wind, or biomass.
Four experts reacted to the paper’s recommendations. Asoka Abeygunawardana, Adviser to the Minister of Power and Energy, Sri Lanka, said that renewable energy was essential if his country was to avoid an 850 percent increase in its greenhouse gas emissions, but that this would not be possible without external help, particularly to support the high up-front capital investments associated with renewable energy. William Breed, Director of USAID’s Global Climate Change team, explained how his agency is working to align low-carbon development with the priority of economic growth through further electrification and access to energy in developing countries. Jens Haarlov, Alternate Executive Director for the Nordic and Baltic Countries at the World Bank, agreed that while access to energy was a “must” for development, business as usual was not an option. The leveraging of private investment in renewable energy would be crucial. Keya Chatterjee, Director of WWF’s Climate Change Program, said that there was much demand for renewable power in developing countries and that support through multilateral development banks and export credit agencies should be shifted away from fossil fuels to renewable generation. Representatives from the private sector, government agencies, civil-society organizations, and other experts participated in the roundtable discussion.
To listen to Nigel Purvis' introductory remarks, click here.
To listen to Manish Bapna's remarks, click here.
To listen to Lutz Weischer's remarks, click here.
To watch a video with panelist Lutz Weischer discussing the paper, click here.
For more information about the working paper “Grounding Green Power: Bottom-up perspectives on smart renewable energy policy,” click here.