With energy costs, efficiency, security and climate change looking like they will be on corporate and political agendas for quite some time to come, government officials and executives from industry and commerce are increasingly networking to find ways of reducing energy intensity and greenhouse gas emissions – both operationally and by implementing organizational polices and best practices.
Cabinet level officials from more than 70 countries will be gathering alongside representatives from private sector, non-governmental organizations, the media and the public in the nation’s capital March 4-6 for WIREC 2008, the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference.
Conference focal points are organized around four themes: Market Adoption and Finance; Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development; Technology, Research and Development; and State and Local Government Initiatives, each intended to provide a forum for examining policy initiatives that can facilitate a rapid ramping up renewable energy sources.
“This agenda has both the breadth and depth necessary for international leaders to address energy security, environmental quality, and wealth creation in rural areas.” said Thomas C. Dorr, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development, in a media release.
Renwable Energy Action Plan
In addition to the ministerial level meeting, ACORE (American Council on Renewable Energy) and 14 domestic and international renewable energy trade associations are organizing the trade and business side of the conference and exhibition. “What makes WIREC distinct from other renewable energy conferences is the participants,” Dorr added. “For the first time, all of the crucial stakeholders in renewable energy will gather in one place at one time – from energy and agriculture ministers to rural cooperatives and from academia to Fortune 500 companies. We have all of the necessary elements to make a significant impact in renewable energy deployment.”
WIREC 2008 is the third global ministerial-level conference on renewable energy, following events in Beijing in 2005 (BIREC 2005) and Bonn in 2004 (Renewables 2004). The first renewable energy International Action Plan, which contains 197 non-binding commitments to foster growth in renewable energy, resulted from the Bonn conference
Public release of a corresponding set of voluntary renewable energy pledges from participants, dubbed the Washington International Action Program (WIAP), is expected following WIREC 2008. Pledges may include specific commitments, the development of a suite of policy instruments, program launches or any combination of concrete steps aimed at fostering greater renewable energy development and use.
The Danish government, for instance, has already announced the following pledges for WIREC 2008:
- Reduce the use of fossil fuels by a minimum of 15% by 2025;
- Increase the share of renewable energy to at least 30% of energy consumption by 2025;
- Increase energy efficiency by 1.4% per year from 2010 to 2025;
- Double funds for research and development of new energy technologies by 2010
Lest you think this is mostly green puffery and posturing, “These are hard targets associated with specific programs to ensure implementation,” Friis Arne Petersen, Danish Ambassador to the U.S., said in a Feb. 27 media release. “Only by setting ambitious and binding targets, in addition to increased research and development, will we be able to achieve the necessary level of energy technology development and deployment. We have to lead by example.” The Danish embassy is practicing what it preaches. It runs the only embassy in Washington, D.C. that is carbon neutral.