Pacific leaders including the Prime Minister Hon Henry Puna who met in Abu Dhabi recently have welcomed the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) proposed work activities to accelerate renewable energy deployment in the Pacific region, which is currently heavily dependent on fossil fuels.
Prime Minister Puna Puna said the leaders agreed to work with the Agency to map the renewable energy readiness of the region’s countries and territories to measure opportunities for implementation and identify pathways to close any gaps. “We also agreed action on creating a common up-to-date information platform; tackling grid stability issues; fostering a sustainable renewable energy market; conducting capacity building initiatives and making a special assessment of the region’s renewable energy, land use and water resources nexus.”
“Limited land and water resources, the isolation of many communities and the high cost of polluting fossils have long been a barrier to the region’s economic growth,” he added.
“At the same time our region includes some of the nation’s most threatened by climate change and environmental degradation. With IRENA as our partner we can liberate local innovation and industry, bring electricity and light to remote villages, and balance energy costs. We welcome IRENA’s assistance in helping our Pacific island countries realise their full potential as they make the transition to a renewable’s based future.”
The meeting – which included six Heads of State and IRENA Members in the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu – discussed IRENA’s proposed role in accelerating its deployment, opportunities for collaboration with other stakeholders and development partners, and provided guidance on IRENA’s new proposals, ensuring that they accord with the Pacific Leaders’ policy goals and priorities.
In an opening address Dr. Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, President of the First IRENA Assembly and UAE Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change, said the meeting of Pacific Leaders was one of the most important meetings IRENA had organised.
“This is your opportunity to openly share your ideas on what concrete, actionable, and measurable activities IRENA can take in both the medium and short term in your countries. Tangible progress in the Pacific Islands will demonstrate IRENA’s capability to support – through action – the acceleration, development and deployment of renewable energy technologies.”
Although the Pacific Region has a few hydropower resources, 99% of the rest of the energy used for transport and electricity comes from fossil fuels. Increased fuel prices have cost most Pacific Island countries and territories some 10% of their gross national income.
During the IRENA Council meeting, the Prime Minister reported back on the outcome of the Pacific Leaders Meeting. The report was received and approved by the council and will be incorporated in IRENA’s work plan 2012 & 2013.
During the Pacific Leaders Meeting, the Director General for IRENA, highlighted that IRENA will provide US$50million under IRENA DEVELOPMENT FUND to support the PIC countries accelerate the Implementation of Renewable in their countries.
The Prime Minister and his delegation which included the Associate Minister, Atatoa Herman the Director of Renewable Energy Development, also met Professor Taha Quarda of the Masdar Institute of Technology in Abu Dhabi which will be responsible for the Renewable Energy mapping resources to be funded by IRENA. The visit gave the delegation the opportunity to experience the development and research of building Masdar City as the first city in the world to be 100% of all its energy needs from renewable energy.