Task force proposes regional hubs for energy research

A research network would collaborate on renewable energy Copyright: AEDB

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A global network of energy research centres should be established to enhance climate change mitigation around the world, says an expert taskforce.

The ‘Consultative Group on International Energy Research’ (CGIER) would be modelled on the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), an international group of regional centres that collaborates on agricultural research.

It was mooted by the Task Force on Low-Carbon Prosperity of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in their report published last week (22 September).

The task force was formulating ‘bottom-up’ strategies to speed green innovation and clean development in the private sector to complement the ‘top-down’ directives agreed by at the UN climate change meeting in Copenhagen in December.

CGIER would give practical solutions and technical advice to governments, businesses, and consumers on how to implement energy efficiency measures within the context of national mitigation plans. The group could also facilitate technology transfer and promote research into clean energy.

Munqeth Mehyar, Jordanian director of Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME), says that some oil-producing developing countries oppose clean energy for the sake of "cashing in" on oil profits.

"The lack of such [networks] is strengthening these countries’ position. But if we have organisations that are hosting field trips and capacity building, then eventually [the countries] will submit to the reality that climate change is not something to be ignored," he says.

Mehyar says CGIER would be an essential step and that the Arab League nations could form such a network in the region.

Wael Hmaidan, executive director of environmental nongovernmental organisation IndyAct, says: "It will take time before there is trust between the [public and private] sectors but this is necessary, especially in developing countries".

According to Mehyar

, the local public sector and businesses would be interested in funding these initiatives. But Mohammed El-Raey, professor of environmental studies in Alexandria University, Egypt, says that developed countries should take responsibility for funding.

The task force’s report recommended energy efficiency measures as the most cost-effective and realistic way to reduce harmful emissions, as well as halting deforestation and planting forests.

It also proposes a financing mechanism where regional public-private investment funds — administered by the private sector and in part guaranteed by development banks — could generate US$1 trillion for investment in low-carbon infrastructure in developing countries in the next 15 years.

Link to full report [287kB]