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Brief analysis of the Beijing declaration, comparing the draft with the final version

The declaration itself does not break new ground, except for the limited extent that it begins to draw the concluding link in the circle back to the multilateral process where it dead-ended in Johannesburg, back into the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) process in the upcoming 2006/7 cycle focused on climate, energy and air pollution. The declaration calls upon the “Commission to consider an effective arrangement to review and assess progress towards substantially increasing the global share of renewable energy as foreseen in paragraph 20(e) of Johannesburg’s Plan of Implementation.”

This link is by no means clear and needs to be strengthened substantially. Governments need to commit themselves to get some concrete results out of the CSD cycle, although it needs more discussion on what Governments should do, other than further commitments and directives for the multilateral system, like UN agencies, World Bank, IFI, to support renewable energy development.

Specific comments about the evolution of the declaration during the conference:


Para 2 – The reference to the Asia Pacific partnership was deleted. This partnership is an empty agreement designed for PR purposes in Washington and Canberra. The authors had the intent to push a so called “alternative” to the Kyoto protocol.

Para 3 – ‘Energy efficiency’ and ‘climate change’ added. Energy efficiency plays an essential role in shifting the global energy system to a more sustainable one. Adding of climate change into the declaration underlines the importance of this issue for developing countries. RE are not solely perceived as a development issue, but also as an environmental issue.

Para 6 - The improved text of the paragraph gives a better statement of reality, that ”most developing countries have not benefited” from the recent rapid RE development, and not that the “expansion has been driven by a few, mostly developed, countries”, as written in the draft declaration. This would discount, i.e. Brazil’s 30 years of leadership on biofuels, India’s leadership for at least 25 years on a wide variety of forms of RE, as well as China’s massive global leadership in passive solar thermal installations. It’s still a few countries, but if you add Germany, Denmark and Spain to the list, then you’re split 50/50 north and south. With this change the reinforcement of the notion that RE is a rich country technology can be avoided.

Para 11 – The references to the primacy in the UN system for technical assistance for renewable energy development in developing countries, especially least developing countries are an improvement of the paragraph.

Para 12 – “Climate change’ was inserted. The second half of this paragraph is probably about as specific as this conference was going to get back to the UN system instead of unclear initiatives like the type 2 partnerships from the Johannesburg World Summit 2002 and other plurilateral discussions, i.e. “among groups of willing countries”.

Para 13 - The draft declaration recommended that the CSD consider the launch of a
10-year framework to substantially increase the use of renewable energy. The 10 years program was rejected from the declaration. This is a positive decision, as it’s too prescriptive and therefore would probably be ruled out on that basis. Secondly, a ten years plan of action with no direction as to what it is going to do, seems to be a provision for an endless procedural conflict with very little substance.


Para 9 – It was a pity that the text about the revision of OECD Export Credit Agencies and their lending guidelines in favor of RE and clean energy technologies was removed from the declaration.

Steve Sawyer (Greenpeace)
November 2005

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last updated: 22.11.2005