Delegates from more than 150 countries on Friday agreed on an ambitious action program to promote renewable energy at the close of a four-day conference in Bonn.
Renewable energy sources could get a big boost from the conference
In their final declaration, delegates to the "Renewables 2004" conference called for the further development of renewable energies and committed their countries to 165 projects aimed at decreasing dependency on fossil fuels and stopping climate change.
The biggest conference ever on the issue attracted 3,000 representatives from 154 countries to the western German city of Bonn and -- perhaps most importantly -- may have put an end to the shadowy existence alternative energy sources have so far had in most countries.
"The message from Bonn is action not words," German Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin proclaimed. The future belongs to energy from sun, wind, water and bio-mass, the Green politician said, declaring at the end of the conference that a "new age" had begun.
Time for action
Klaus Töpfer, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) was charged with monitoring implementation of the action program, which foresees, among other things, cut-backs in subsidies for oil, coal and gas. China said it would more than double the amount of electricity produced by renewable energies by 2010, to 10 percent. Along with five other European countries, Germany founded a working group under the aegis of the International Energy Agency to abolish investment restraints to employing alternative energies.
The final declaration set the aim of providing one billion people in developing countries with electricity from renewable sources. German Ministerr for Economic Cooperation and Development Heide Wieczorek-Zeul said the projects in the action plan would allow the target to be met.
But environmentalists were more cautious, saying that actions must indeed follow words before a new age begins. "That is more important than the formulations in the final declaration," Jennifer Morgan of the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) said.
Greenpeace expert Sven Teske was similarly circumspect, criticizing that the need for financial backing had been neglected.
"Stability pact" on environment
UNEP head Klaus Töpfer (photo, above) caused a stir Thursday when he proposed establishment of a "stability pact" on the environment inspired by the European Union's Stability and Growth Pact, which underpins the euro. Governments should be responsible to meet criteria to lessen environmental impact or face serious consequences, Töpfer said.
"We are overusing our environment. We know this is weakening stability for the future, because we need the environment's services for economic stability. We know that what we are not paying now coming generations have to pay," Töpfer told DW-RADIO.
"It is a commitment of governments to do their homework."