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Germany

Schröder Warns Against Dependency on Oil

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said Thursday economic dependency on oil was playing into the hands of terrorists and urged moving to renewable energy. Separately, OPEC agreed to raise oil production to ease prices.

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Not what the Chancellor wants.

Addressing a four-day international conference on renewable energy in Bonn, Schröder warned that the one-sidedness of the world's energy sources had made it a target for terror attacks like the ones last week on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities.

"We must realize that the world's overwhelming dependence on oil has enormously increased our vulnerability to this form of terrorism," Schröder said. The attacks "are directly aimed at striking a vital nerve of humankind," he added.

Need for change

Energiekonferenz Bonn Gerhard Schröder Jürgen Trittin und Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul

Schröder, right with environment minister Jürgen Trittin, center, and development minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul at the renewables conference 2004 in Bonn.

Schröder said the recent attacks in Saudi Arabia and the continued instability in Iraq made it dramatically clear that the availability of a variety of sources of energy was vital to international security.

"Making renewable energies a mainstream resource is imperative not just for our economies, it is imperative for security in a globalized world," he said.

Schröder urged the 3,000 representatives from 154 nations at the conference to diversify into other energy resources and invest in solar, wind and other renewable fuels and added that countries needed to "reorientate the global energy policy."

Schröder pointed towards Germany's own achievements in renewable energy: the country is investing some €6 billion ($7.2 billion) a year to build wind farms, solar panels and tapping geothermal and other alternative sources of energy.

Some 120,000 people are estimated to be working in Germany's renewables sector. The country has also reduced its emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases by nearly a fifth.

OPEC decides to hike output

Referring to the steady rise in oil prices in recent weeks, in particular after the Saudi attacks, Schröder warned, "higher energy prices damage the chance for economic development. They threaten the recovery in developed economies and around the world they hamper the fight against poverty and hunger."

OPEC Treffen in Beirut Ölminister Kuwait

Kuwaiti oil minister Ahmed Al-Sabah speaks to reporters during the OPEC meeting in Beirut, Lebanon on Thursday.

At the same time the German chancellor welcomed OPEC's (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) decision Thursday to raise its production ceiling by two million barrels a day in July in a bid to bring down spiraling prices of crude oil. The organization also agreed to raise the target by an additional 500,000 barrels a day in August if it sees a need, it said.

OPEC representatives from Qatar, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates confirmed the decision before the group met for a closed-door meeting to ratify the increase. In his opening address at the meeting, OPEC President Purnomo Yusgiantoro of Indonesia called on members to do "as much as they can to help stabilize the oil market."

Nigerian representative Edmund Maduabebe Daukoru said, "To act as responsible members of the world community, we have to make this strong signal to the market that we are ready to produce to cool the system."

More for alternative energy

Schröder also backed up his speech with concrete promises of money as he assured that Germany would take responsibility for global development.

The chancellor vowed Germany would provide low-interest loans worth €500 million between 2005 and 2010 to encourage renewable energy and energy efficiency in developing countries. The money, channeled through the state development credit agency Kredit für Wiederaufbau (KfW), will go to public, private and semi-public enterprises and local banks, he said.

The funds come on top of Germany's pledge of a billion euro until 2010 at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002.

Solarschiff Helio am Bodensee

Helio, the first solar-powered ferry shuttle serves the German city of Gaienhofen and Steckborn on the Swiss shore of Lake Constance. It can carry up to 50 passengers and 25 bicycles.

Schröder's commitment to renewable energy has been welcomed by environmental organizations and green groups.

"Schröder is listening to the signals," said Jennifer Morgan, head of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) delegation. She said the chancellor had made it clear that not just ecological, but also security arguments spoke in favor of renewable energy.

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