G8 report sees renewables as key energy for poor
Updated: Fri, Jul 13 12:44 PM EDT
By Robin Pomeroy

BRUSSELS, July 13 (Reuters) - Green energies like wind and solar power could play a major role in improving the lives of millions of the world's poorest people, says a report to be handed to world leaders at a summit in Genoa, Italy next weekend.

The report, co-written by Mark Moody-Stuart, the chairman Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell, says the G8 countries should aim to ensure renewable energies reach one billion people by the end of the decade, according to a draft seen by Reuters on Friday.

"Such an outcome of serving up to a billion people in the next decade with renewables should be our goal and aspiration," the report says.

The report comes at a sensitive time for international energy and environmental policy. The G8 summit coincides with United Nations talks in Bonn, Germany aimed at salvaging the Kyoto deal on cutting greenhouse gases that U.S. President George W. Bush rejected in March.

Green technologies -- which do not produce the emissions blamed for global warming -- could help get power to the two billion people who have no access to modern forms of energy without adding to problems of climate change and air pollution, the report says.

The conclusions follow a year's work by a renewable energy task force that was set up by the Group of Eight top industrialised countries and Russia at their summit in Okinawa, Japan.

Developing countries already get 36 percent of their energy from biomass, mostly firewood. The report says there is great potential for these countries to develop affordable electricity from renewable sources.

"In certain remote location where the electricity and/or fossil fuel infrastructure does not reach, renewable energy systems can be the only cost-effective option," it says.

Up to 300 million poor people living in remote rural areas could be served with electricity from renewable sources by the end of the decade if richer nations played the right role, the report said.

Developed countries should ensure their development aid schemes and export credit agencies back renewables and ensure that such technologies can flourish in their own energy markets, requiring a removal of subsidies to "environmentally harmful energy technologies," the report says.

Environmental campaigners welcomed the leaked draft, but voiced concerns that G8 leaders would not put the words into action.

A press release from a coalition of green groups said they had evidence the United States was opposed to endorsing the one billion people target and that Canada opposed what appeared to be a commitment to phase out nuclear power.