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COP15: No clear signal to renewable energy markets and investors

Most people will be disappointed with the agreement reached between China, India, Brazil, South Africa and the United States at COP15 in Copenhagen last week, according to Steve Sawyer, Secretary General at the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

“We have an agreement between five countries. It will be interesting to see what the other 188 have to say. I think most people are disappointed with this agreement, and if it is adopted by the rest of the countries here, I think governments will have failed to live up to the promises they made to each other two years ago in Bali,” Sawyer says.

The proposed COP15 agreement is a collection of voluntary actions by countries in a form already proposed in the early pre-Kyoto climate negotiations – with no legally binding commitments or international architecture.

GWEC had been calling for stringent legally binding emissions targets to spur continued investment in renewable energy and to establish a solid basis for carbon markets. The voluntary approach taken in this declaration would fail to send clear confidence building signals to the market and to investors. If this document goes forward as the basis for negotiation, then it will be important to keep an eye on how the agreement will catalyse investment in clean energy technologies,” Sawyer says.

Despite the disappointing outcome of COP15, Sawyer still says the “boom of wind energy and other renewable energy technologies will continue, driven by national concerns over climate change, and economic and security considerations.

“However, a clear signal of long-term political commitment into decarbonising our energy system would drive even more private investment to clean technologies. A weak agreement would mean missing a unique opportunity to speed up the energy revolution,” Sawyer warns.

Although the signals for short and medium term finance for renewable energy are positive, additional financing is required, Saywer concludes in his summary of the COP15 deal.

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Policy, investment and markets  •  World Future Energy Summit