Prompted by climate change concerns, surging oil prices and continuing anxiety over energy security, investment in renewable energy and energy efficient reached a record last year, according to a United Nations Environment Program report released this week. The report found that in spite of the subprime mortgage crisis that engulfed global markets, new investment in clean energy reached nearly $150 billion in 2007, up 60 per cent from the year before.
“Just as thousands were drawn to California and the Klondike in the late 1800s, the green energy gold rush is attracting legions of modern day prospectors in all parts of the globe,” Mr. Steiner said.
“With world temperatures and fossil fuel prices climbing higher, it is increasingly obvious to the public and investors alike that the transition to a low-carbon society is both a global imperative and an inevitability.”
He voiced hope that the findings of the study, entitled “Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2008,” will spur governments to reach a long-term global agreement on climate change, including detailed measures on mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance, at the international conference in Copenhagen at the end of next year.
Wind energy captured most of the new funding with over $50 billion, with solar power gaining almost $30 billion.
For greenhouse gas reduction and efficiency targets to be met, investment in sustainable energy must continue its strong growth, the study cautioned.
Funding is expected to reach $450 billion annually by 2012, surging to over $600 billion annually in 2020. “The sector’s overall performance during 2007 and into 2008 sets it on track to achieve these levels,” it noted.
During a stop in Japanese city of Kyoto on Sunday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that the world must galvanize its will and reach a new agreement on measures to fight climate change by the end of 2009.
In a dialogue with several hundred students, scholars and representatives of the private sector and civil society in the city which gave birth to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, he said that with the first commitment period of that pact ending in 2012, a new agreement must be adopted by the end of next year.