IRENA has to become the global engine

(c) irena.orgPress release, Bonn, 20th January 2010

The International Renewable Energy Agency one year on

IRENA turned out to be a success many had not believed in. At EUROSOLAR we were convinced from the very beginning that it was right to take this road. Our tenacity was rewarded: We came a long way but finally achieved our target.

It took twenty years to launch the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA. On 26th January 2009 the time had come at long last: IRENA was established in Bonn and 75 governments joined immediately. To date the world organisation for renewable energy comprises 143 countries including the European Union. As a result IRENA represents over four billion people, nearly two-thirds of the world's population.

While IRENA started off in July 2009 this anniversary provides an occasion for making an initial assessment of how well it has done. IRENA generated magnetic effects and the demand for membership continues. Next to the three founders Germany, Denmark and Spain who signed on with IRENA many important countries followed, among them the United States, Australia, France, Britain, Japan and South Africa. The accession of major energy producers and consumers like Brazil, Canada, China and Venezuela is still outstanding. But nevertheless: Mexico is to join shortly and Saudi Arabia is ready to join, too.

It is known that not all our wishes came true. The city of Bonn did not become headquarters of IRENA as we had hoped for, but Abu Dhabi. And, contrary to what many considered a matter of course, EUROSOLAR president Hermann Scheer, who originated and pioneered the idea and creation of IRENA, did not become its director-general, since the German government had refrained from nominating him because it feared his candidacy would interfere with Bonn's application to host the IRENA headquarters. We have coped with our initial disappointment and come to terms with realities. The fact that IRENA was set up and can do its work is more important.

To begin with, an effective organisation structure, work processes and communication networks needed to be created in the Secretariat during the first year. The director-general strived to develop IRENA's distinct contours in the concert of numerous international organisations. Now in 2010 it has to take up its position. We also believe that the time has come to set up the IRENA innovation and technology centre in Bonn quickly, as was decided earlier. With a staff of 13 it will rather be a small division however.

There is plenty of work ahead for IRENA in 2010. Once its position taken up IRENA can take advantage of the next phase to become the global engine to accelerate the entry of renewable energy. The course of the Copenhagen deliberation on climate change has shown in the same way as its unsuccessful precursors have shown that it is impossible to find a solution to the jeopardized future on Earth when the aim is to come to a globally uniform climate policy with CO2 emissions trading. All countries, all governments, all regions, all towns, all the innumerable initiatives, including EUROSOLAR, every single human being – all have to become active themselves to tackle climate change and to effect the shift in our energy habit.

IRENA is expected to play a pivotal role in this process. It has to embrace it with courage and energy. Following a run-up period of one year it is time to gain pace.

Helmut Lölhöffel
EUROSOLAR press and media relations
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