Statement by Ambassador Wittig on „The present and future of renewable energy"

Apr 29, 2013

(Statement as delivered by Ambassador Wittig at a briefing on "The present and future of renewable energy" by the secretariat of the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the Twenty-First Century, organized by the Permanent Mission of Germany, in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme)

"Excellencies, dear colleagues and friends,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to this briefing on the present and future use of renewable energy. At the outset I thank the UNEP New York office for co-organizing this briefing and for being with us today.

Almost ten years ago, during the Renewables Conference in Bonn in 2004, the idea of a multi-stakeholder approach towards renewable energies was born and the Renewable Energy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) founded. At that time, we could not have anticipated the great success and the political impact of this new network.

A strategic think-tank under the visionary leadership of Ms. Christine Lins, REN21's Executive Secretary, who is with us today, REN21 has proven its capacity to promote renewable energy as a key issue for the sustainability and development agenda. REN21 closely cooperates with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and is actively involved in the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative of the Secretary-General.

The latest Global Status Report, the flagship report of REN21, and the outlook to the 2013 report will be presented to you in a minute by Ms. Lins. This report which was first presented in 2005, has become the major source of information when it comes to renewable energy developments on a global scale, with inputs from hundreds of experts. A truly remarkable success for the small REN21 Secretariat.

Let me highlight some figures of the latest Global Status Report which are very inspiring: Renewable energy currently supplies about 17% of the global final energy consumption, 118 countries are implementing renewable energy targets, and global investments in renewables have increased last year by 17% to a record of $257 billion. And: Net investment in renewable power capacities exceeded last year for the first time the net investment in fossil fuel capacities. This is a remarkable development.

The second report, the Global Futures Report 2013, which is presented today to you by Mr. Martinot, the lead author of the report, is a pioneering publication providing assessments and projections about future trends in renewable energies. The report first was presented in January 2013 at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. It serves as an information tool for dialogue and discussion on future options, on developments in various countries as well as the challenges and barriers the growth of renewables will face in the near future.

The new Global Futures Report 2013 is taking the discussion about renewables to a new level – from sound facts and figures, which still remain imperative for political decision makers, to visionary debates and trends about the future of renewable energy. I am sure that this new report will become another centerpiece for REN21's work. But more importantly, it will become a crucial tool and inspiring instrument for all relevant actors in the field of renewable energy. And it shows that there are many possible futures for the development of renewable energies.

My own country, Germany, has embarked on a long and challenging journey to transform our energy system to more sustainable sources of energy. At the same time, Germany is to remain a competitve and attractive business location. Currently, 20% of Germany´s electricity are produced by renewables. The objective is to increase this share to 80% in 2050. At the same time, we seek to reduce energy consumption: compared to 2008 levels we want to reduce the overall energy consumption in Germany by 50% until 2050. And: we have completely opted out of nuclear energy. The last nuclear power plants in Germany will be shut down irreversibly in 2022.

These efforts are made in light of the growing challenges of climate change: Greenhouse Gas emissions in Germany will be cut by at least 80% until 2050 compared to their 1990 levels. Germany´s “Energiewende” is a major contribution to mitigate climate change. It is of course closely linked to and heavily inspired by our worldwide commitment to curb climate change.

Germany will continue to support its partners both on the analytical level through institutions such as REN21 and through concrete activities on the ground, also helping our partners to transform their energy system to a more sustainable production of energy. Be assured that Germany will remain committed to REN21 and the future of renewable energies.

Let me also use this opportunity to thank UNEP for its generous support to the REN21 Secretariat and the facilitation of this event.

I look forward to interesting presentations and a lively discussion. Thank you."

© GermanyUN