More investment in renewable energy would create much-needed jobs at a time when the world is struggling with rising unemployment, experts said Monday.
Kandeh K. Yumkella, director-general of the U.N. Industrial Development Organization and Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, spoke at the start of a conference about energy issues in the context of the current global economic crisis.
"On a global scale, 2.3 million people have found jobs in the renewable energy sector over the past few years even though only about 2 percent of worldwide primary energy flows from this sector," Yumkella said. "So you can imagine with more investments in renewable energy how much more jobs we can create."
Pachauri, whose team shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, said the global economy needed to be restructured in such a way that problems of the past could be avoided going forwarded.
"And what better way than to ensure that you bring about higher energy efficiency, which will generate a totally new sector of employment?" he said. "What better way than to move toward greater use of renewable energy, which will also generate a lot of jobs and give you a sustainable solution for the future?"
Pachauri is also the director-general of the India-based TERI, The Energy and Resources Institute.
In other comments, both Yumkella and Pachauri stressed that 1.6 billion people around the world still do not have access to electricity and that reversing this phenomenon should be a key priority for policy makers.
"In today's 21st century, there must be climate justice but also energy justice so that we all — all of us — can enjoy the prosperities of globalization," said Yumkella, a former minister of trade, industry and state enterprises in his native Sierra Leone.
The three-day conference organized by UNIDO, the Austrian Development Cooperation, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy, is expected to draw some 500 experts, government officials and civil society representatives.
On the Net:
International Energy Conference 2009: http://www.viennaenergyconference.org/