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International agency for renewable energy to be established

Dec 26, 2008 - The Associated Press

More than 50 countries are expected to establish an international organization in January to expand the use of and promote research and development on renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power.

The organization, the International Renewable Energy Agency, or IRENA, will hold its inaugural conference from Jan. 26 in Bonn, Germany, according to the agency's website.

The agency will work out international criteria for the assessment of power generation efficiency for renewable energy sources, which are becoming important in the fight against global warming and for energy security.

Sources of renewable energy include solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric and wave power. The founding member states include European countries, Australia, South Korea, China and India.

But Japan remains reluctant to join the new body as its mission could overlap with that of existing international organizations and could entail fresh financial burdens.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has not indicated whether the United States will participate in the organization.

Many Japanese environmental groups are worried that Japan could lag behind in the pursuit of renewable energy sources if it does not join the new body.

According to a draft agreement for the establishment of IRENA, the organization will aim to promote the fight against global warming and poverty through the development and diffusion of renewable energy sources. The German government has taken the initiative to work out the draft treaty.

The new agency will also aim to facilitate renewable energy technology transfers to developing countries and to promote studies on financial mechanisms for the development and diffusion of renewable energy sources, according to the draft.

A standing secretariat for the agency will be established.

Unlike the International Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the new body will be the first international organization dedicated to renewable energy.

Tetsunari Iida, executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization, said renewable energy sources are playing a key role in global energy supplies.

Countries are urgently required to establish a specialized forum for renewable energy and to promote policy coordination, Iida said, urging the Japanese government to declare at an early date that it will join the new organization.

According to the agency's website, representatives from 60 countries attended the preparatory conference for its establishment in Berlin on April 10-11 this year. More than 50 countries attended the final preparatory conference in Madrid from Oct. 23 to 24.

All U.N. member states are invited to sign the international treaty at the conference for the establishment of the new organization in Bonn, according to the website.


Updated: 2003/07/28