A Pacific Leader’s Meeting held in Abu Dhabi by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in advance of its Second Assembly, (January 14-15), issued a public communique confirming the Agency’s proposed work activities to accelerate renewable energy deployment in this important region, which is currently heavily dependent on fossil fuels.
“The Pacific Region is an area where volatile fuel prices, long and costly supply routes and relatively small energy markets have resulted in high costs and limited access to energy,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “Renewable resources are a competitive, low-cost alternative for fossil fuels for the Pacific, and some inspiring renewable energy goals are being set. Some States are aiming for 100% renewable power supply, while others plan to balance their increased use of renewable against substantial reductions in fuel imports.”
Today’s 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 the communiqué the leaders welcomed IRENA’s activities and 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. They also 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,” added Prime Minister Henry Puna of the Cook Islands. “At the same time our region includes some of the nations 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.
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 this was one of the most important meetings IRENA would organise.
“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,” he told the delegates. “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. Encouraging the regional development of renewable energy has been a priority for IRENA since its first Assembly in April 2011. This meeting followed on a groundbreaking workshop in Sydney last October, and the Agency’s publication of Renewable Energy Country Profiles for the Pacific Region.