Enviromental: Civil society gears up for Bonn 2004

At the beginning of October more than 60 environmental and energy activists gathered for three days at Germany ‘s Bad Honnef town. They came from Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa and the drizzle of Germany ‘s early winter did not dampen their enthusiasm.

The workshop’s aim was to strategise for the international conference on renewables to take place in Bonn in June 2004.

Having had their hopes dashed last year when the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) failed to adopt concrete steps to increase the use of renewable energy sources), participants are looking to reverse this in Bonn in 2004.

They see the conference as one possible step towards “a world less dependent on fossil fuels such as oil and coal”. According to the workshop declaration a rapid shift to renewables was the only way to avoid the disastrous consequences of climate change. Workshop participants also believe that moving towards renewables is the best way to:

provide affordable energy services to 2-billion people currently without these services
create jobs in the energy sector
avoid wars linked to resources such as oil
ensure security of supply and avoid blackouts that now characterise centralised energy systems
avoid environmental disasters such as oil spills and nuclear accidents.

Also not escaping the participants was how a shift to renewables is important for gender equity. Currently women waste a lot of time and energy collecting and using fuel. Renewables could allow women to use their time and energy more productively.

Workshop participants called on national governments to “announce new policies and measures to increase the share of renewables” in their energy systems. Also called for were “social assistance programmes for workers and communities who may be affected by the transition to cleaner energy sources”.

But government involvement is not enough. “Bonn 2004 is too important to be left in the hands of governments. What happens in Bonn depends on what ordinary people and civil society do between now and June 2004″, said one participant as the delegates were leaving for different destinations.

What are you doing in your workplace and community?