Clinton: Climate needs cash

2011-09-21 14:40
New York - Former US President Bill Clinton said on Tuesday that the success of the alternative energy movement is hampered by a lack of financing.

His comments came as world leaders attending his annual philanthropic conference expressed fears about rising seas.

The ex-president's three-day Clinton Global Initiative for VIPs with deep pockets began on Tuesday with a frank discussion about addressing global climate challenges, co-hosted by Mexican President Felipe Calderon and President Jacob Zuma.

There was a sense of frustration among the world leaders over the failure to create a legally binding world agreement on carbon emissions.

"We have seen much less progress than we hoped for," said Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

Proper funding

Pointing to Germany's successful creation of solar energy jobs as a model for other nations to emulate, Clinton said the main issue with green energy is a lack of proper funding.

"This has to work economically," he said. "You have to come up with the money on the front end."

Clinton's talk of renewable energy financing comes as Republicans are criticising the Obama administration for awarding billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for such projects, including a $528m loan to a now-bankrupt California solar panel maker.

Fremont, California-based Solyndra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month and laid off its 1 100 employees.

It was the first renewable energy company to receive a loan guarantee under a stimulus law programme to encourage green energy and was frequently touted by the Obama administration as a model.

Rising seas are a matter of life and death for small island nations, Zuma said.

"Not theoretical, not in the future, now," he said. "And they can't understand why we're failing to realise that."

Affected countries

Noting that the Kyoto Protocol on climate change is set to expire next year, Calderon said progress must be made toward establishing new rules at the UN convention on climate change in Durban in November.

Calderon said he is concerned that the world's economic problems are overshadowing the need for action on climate change.

"Last year we had the worst rains ever in Mexico, and this year we are living with the worst drought ever in Mexico," he said.

"I know that the world has a lot of troubles, but we are still facing the most challenging problem for human kind in the future, and that is climate change."

Sheikh Hasina, prime minister of Bangladesh, said rising seas would submerge one-fifth of her country, displacing more than 30 million people. Clinton said the next countries most likely to be affected by climate change are places that are inland and hot - such as Mali, a landlocked nation in western Africa.

"A few years ago, after the south Asian tsunami, I spent a lot of time in the Maldives," Clinton said. "I think it's quite possible that the Maldives won't be here in 30 or 40 years."

Clinton said Caribbean nations are microcosms of the problems associated with combating climate change. Every Caribbean nation should be energy-independent, he said, by generating solar, wind and geothermal energy.

Government spending

"But only Trinidad has natural gas," Clinton said. "Everybody else imports heavy oil to burn old-fashioned generators at high cost."

Other leaders who participated in Tuesday's panel included European Commission President Jose Barroso, Slovenian President Danilo Turk, Tillman Thomas, the prime minister of Grenada, and Cisse Mariam Kaidama Sidibe, the prime minister of Mali.

Last year's GCI conference generated nearly 300 new commitments valued at $6bn to tackle major global issues from poverty and disease to climate change.

This year, the conference is happening during an especially rancorous debate in Washington over government spending.

Earlier this month, US President Barack Obama scrubbed a clean-air regulation that aimed to reduce health-threatening smog, yielding to bitterly protesting businesses and congressional Republicans who complained the rule would kill jobs in America's ailing economy.

"We've got to somehow involve the imagination of ordinary people," Clinton said. "They have to understand that this is not a burden, it's an opportunity."

Other panels on the first day of the conference touched on subjects ranging from women and jobs in technology fields to the challenges and opportunities facing the world's increasingly urbanised population living in a growing number of cities.

Cash donations

In a discussion on disaster preparedness, speakers emphasised the needs for preventative action such as improved building standards to mitigate the impact of hurricanes and earthquakes.

They also spoke about how to best help when a disaster does occur, in terms of the public outpouring of donations and goodwill that usually follows.

It's important for people to realise what can really help, like cash donations, and what isn't as useful, like medications that end up not being usable or clothes that victims of disasters don't want or can't use, said Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator for the UN.

When well-meaning people send things that aren't usable, aid agencies can waste precious time and money disposing of them.

"Let's really check what's needed and make sure we're helping rather than being part of the problem," she said.
Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  bill clinton  |  climate change

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36 publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Quiz: Test your Rio Olympics memory!

Think you know what went on at the Rio Olympics? Prove it by tackling Sport24's ridiculously impossible yet highly addictive post-Games quiz!


Rio Olympics

GALLERY: SA's Rio Olympic medallists
As it happened: Rio Olympics - Day 17
Selecting 6 numbers turned Britain into Olympic superpower
Caster cranks up the heat in Rio semi

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.