EBRD launches initiative to cut energy waste and pollution

May 22, 2006 02:00 AM

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has launched a new initiative to cut energy waste and pollution across the 27 countries in which it operates.
It came as the bank mulls investing in a controversial oil and gas project on the island of Sakhalin, 40 km (25 miles) off Japan's coast, amid protests from environmentalists, geologists and community leaders.

The EBRD was founded in 1991 to assist the transition of former communist nations to market economies and operates in countries in central and eastern Europe and central Asia. It unveiled its Sustainable Energy Initiative at its annual conference here to encourage clean and renewable energy projects while making the region it operates in more energy efficient.
"If the EBRD (countries) had the energy efficiency of Europe, world energy demand would be reduced by more than 7.0 %," bank president Jean Lemierre told delegates. "That is why the bank is launching a Sustainable Energy Initiative focused on climate change and energy efficiency," he said on the second and final day of the conference.

Under the initiative, the bank will invest up to EUR 1.5 bn ($ 1.9 bn) in energy efficiency, renewable and clean energy projects over the next three years. With further financing from other investors it is hoped that figure could rise to EUR 5.0 bn. The bank aims also to win an additional EUR 100 mm from donor governments.
The Worldwide Fund for Nature pleaded with the EBRD to deny financing for Sakhalin, claiming that the controversial oil and gas project on Russia's far eastern island had again breached environmental standards. Before the conference, Lemierre had indicated that a decision would probably be reached by September on financing an expansion of the so-called Sakhalin II project, which is led by Anglo-Dutch giant Royal Dutch Shell and has a projected $ 20-bn (EUR 16.4-bn) price tag.

The region covered by the EBRD, which is headquartered in the British capital, is one of the fastest growing parts of the world and has a growing appetite for energy. The wasteful and polluting use of energy is a legacy of centrally-planned economies that caused environmental and economic damage, according to the bank, which unveiled a five-year strategy to invest more cash in south-eastern Europe and Russia and reduce its activities in former communist countries that are now EU members.
"Across the whole region, the EBRD has set a high priority on better use of energy," Lemierre said. "The global concern with climate change is one good reason to reduce the use of fossil fuels."

The EBRD aims to double its financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, while developing feasibility studies for newer renewable technologies. Lemierre lashed out at the "terrible waste of energy" in every EBRD country.
"There is a solid business case for energy efficiency measures," he said. Those measures included efficiency improvements to industrial projects, domestic heating, electricity grids and ageing hydro plants.

Source: AFP
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