Skip to main content

Developing countries receive boost for renewable energy under new UN plan

Developing countries receive boost for renewable energy under new UN plan

Developing countries will receive extra help to exploit their renewable energy potential, such as fuels derived from agricultural crops, under a new initiative launched this week by the United Nations agency entrusted with integrating developing states into the world economy.

Under the BioFuels Initiative, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will coordinate the various activities carried out jointly with other UN agencies, the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and applied research centres, to build capacity in production, use and trade of biofuels.

Biofuels (bioethanol, biodiesel and biogas) derived from crops such as sugar beet and sunflower are an ecological alternative to conventional fossil fuels, which are expected to last no more than 50 years for petroleum, 60 years for natural gas and 200 years for coal. Careless use and consumption of these latter fuels has caused climate change and high concentration of air pollutants in major cities.

The BioFuels Initiative focuses on new trade and investment opportunities for developing countries, on implications for poverty reduction, and on the supply-side constraints of increasing the production, use and trade of these fuels.

As petrol prices rise, biofuel production, domestic use and trade reduce oil import dependency and increase energy security. Biofuel production creates employment, encourages greater diversification and promotes rural development.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an effective way of fighting global warming by burning less carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For both developed and developing countries it may provide a pragmatic alternative for meeting their commitments to combat climate change and achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of slashing poverty, hunger and other socio-economic ills by 2015.