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Editorial
 
Sustainable Energy is rapidly being introduced in all parts of
the world. The March issue of Sustainable Energy News reported
on large growths in the installed capacity of wind turbines again
in 1995. In this issue, we mention the 8-doubling of the Solar
PV production in the period 1980-95. Similar growth rates are
found in the use of other sustainable energy technologies: rapid
increase in improved cookstoves in Eastern Africa, of biogas in
Central Asia, of solar water heaters in Greece and Turkey, of
solar cookers in India and Africa, of energy efficiency in
Eastern Europe, just to mention a few.
With all these successes, do we still need to strengthen NGO-
activities for sustainable energy? Do we need to mobilise the
forces of the NGOs to further speed up the changes?
One answer is that, in spite of the successes with sustainable
energy, the energy-related environmental damage is steadily
worsening with the ever-increasing emissions. The trend is for
further increases in the global emissions, as, e.g., the largest
emitter of CO2, USA, will probably not be able to stabilize its
emissions, as reported in this issue. Even the environmental
movements have changed their focus from stopping global warming
to reducing it. As reported in this issue, Climate Action Network
will lobby for reductions in greenhouse- gas emissions to
stabilize their atmospheric concentrations below the equivalent
of 2 times pre-industrial levels of CO2, which would lead to
about 2C raise of the global temperature (estimated temperature
raise: 1.1 - 3.3 C according to UN Panel of Climate Scientists).
A 2 C increase in global average temperature will have some
harmful effects to the environment, and thereby to human
societies; it is rather a survival strategy than the optimal,
environmentally benign solution.
Changing from increasing to declining emissions worldwide is
technically possible, starting with changes in industrialized
countries, which presently have by far the largest share of
emissions. In many cases, the changes also have benefits for the
society.
Unfortunately the technology & market driven introduction of
sustainable energy is not fast enough to ensure a sufficient drop
in emissions, even though it is fast enough to make sustainable
energy business very prosperous. One way to increase the speed
of development is to combine the technology and market-driven
strategy with bottom-up strategies to integrate the users from
all segments of the society into the development and
dissemination of sustainable energy solutions. Community-based
organizations (CBOs) and other NGOs have large roles to play in
implementing these bottom-up strategies. They are already active
in many of the above-mentioned successes.Together with the
increasing popular understanding of the environmental problems,
they are key agents of the necessary changes.

Gunnar Boye Olesen
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Published in
Sustainable Energy News
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ISSUE #13 (75KB - text only) 39 pages (1996-06-30)
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