The Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Alexander Downer recently pledged $1.5 million Australian dollars (approximately € 907,000 Euro) over the next three years to the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) to help improve access to reliable, clean and affordable energy sources such as solar energy, across the Pacific. The funding is a part of the aid program’s scaling up of its focus on the environment with the recent release of the aid program’s new strategy, Aid and the Environment: building resilience, sustaining growth.
Widespread energy poverty is one of perhaps the most serious challenges the world is facing. Some 1.5 billion people do not have access to electricity and without adequate supplies of affordable energy, economic growth is hampered and welfare will suffer. In addition most of these people rely on traditional biomass – wood and dung, which has serious negative impacts on health and the environment. Using local sources, renewable energy itself can generate new sources of income and stimulate further economic activity without reliance on imported fuel.
“Clean, cost-effective, and reliable sources of energy are particularly important for Small Island States as they move to more sustainable paths to development,” states Minister Downer. “In collaboration with the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership, Australia will provide $1.5 million for action on the ground via projects that improve access by Pacific Island communities to reliable and clean energy services.”
REEEP is an international alliance of governments, NGOs and businesses dedicated to accelerating and expanding the global market for renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies. REEEP is focused on reducing carbon emissions, improving energy security and ensuring access to clean energy. There are clear links between Australia’s Environment Strategy for the Aid Program and REEEP’s energy access work in the Pacific.
Dr. Marianne Osterkorn, REEEP International Director, recognised the contribution from the Australian government as a major step towards increasing the focus on energy access in the Pacific. “REEEP is extremely pleased to have a three-year funding pledge from the Australian government. Their contribution will allow REEEP to expand our work in the Pacific region. The Australian government already supports the South East Asia and Pacific Regional Secretariat, but this contribution allows Australia to directly contribute to projects in the region.”
REEEP is dedicated to the development and support of legislative, regulatory and financial frameworks that stimulate the marketplace for renewable energy and energy efficiency markets. REEEP is active globally, with over 30 on-ground projects targeting the development of policy, finance and business models that can be replicated by governments and project developers worldwide. The partnership has more than 220 members, including all G8 countries with the exception of Russia.
In 2006, Switzerland, Argentina, Singapore, Romania and Tunisia all joined REEEP in order to support their domestic renewable energy and energy efficiency programmes. REEEP receives funding from Austria, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.