President Bush put renewable energy on his agenda today with a stop at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) in Washington, D.C., where 3,000 participants have registered for the ministerial conference portion of the program. More than 100 official country delegations have over 600 official party delegates, including more than 100 ministers, in attendance at WIREC.
According to WIREC coordinators, the Washington International Action Program, a compilation of pledges from WIREC participants, have collected more than 60 pledges to expand use of renewable energy. Developed nations in Europe have contributed a number of impressive commitments, and a handful of African nations volunteered substantial actions. Anticipation was high for a U.S. pledge from President Bush.
In his address, the president emphasized the importance of economic stability as a foundation for increasing the implementation of renewable energies around the world.
‘An effective international agreement on renewable energy is one that recognizes that economies have got to grow in order to afford investment in the first place,’ Bush said. ‘You must have economic wealth in order to be able to research and develop renewable energy. This is an issue that requires substantial commitments of money, and it's hard to commit money if your economies are hurting.’
Recognizing not only that every nation must commit to renewable energy, but that some nations are not able to afford new renewable energy technologies, President Bush suggested the formation of an international clean technology fund supported by the wealthier nations of the world. Bush called on Congress to commit an initial U.S. contribution of $2 billion to the fund.
‘During the last year of my presidency,’ Bush added, ‘I will call on other wealthy nations to contribute to this fund.’
Bush also emphasized in his address a two-fold strategy for reducing U.S. dependence on fossil fuels.
‘The two biggest opportunities to help change the environment are through how we drive our cars and how we power our country,’ he said. He identified wind power as a critical component of the U.S. strategy to alter its electricity mix.
‘When I was the governor of Texas, I signed an electric deregulation bill that encouraged and mandated the use of renewable energy,’ he said. ‘Today, Texas produces more wind energy than any other state in the Union. If an oil state can produce wind energy, other states in America can produce wind energy.’