Ministers miss chance for cooperation on clean energy at Korea summit

High level meeting on clean technology ends in little but a decision to install “cool roofs” in Mexico

Pic: Gary Denness/Flickr

Pic: Gary Denness/Flickr

By Gerard Wynn

Energy ministers failed to devise new policies to help clean up the world’s energy supply, instead taking small steps in a long list of joint projects, at a meeting in the republic of Korea.

The Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) round of meetings was founded by the administration of US President Barack Obama in late 2009 as a forum for the world’s biggest economies to agree steps to improve efficiency and cut carbon emissions from the energy sector.

The idea was to foster cooperation at gatherings outside the hothouse and political posturing typical of more formal processes such as the UN climate negotiations.

The initiative involves 23 countries including China, Britain, Germany, Russia, India and the United States.

At the fifth annual meeting, however, ministers made little progress, where perhaps the biggest announcement was support for a Mexican project to paint the roofs of buildings white, to help reflect heat and thereby slow global warming.

The CEM provided assistance to the Mexican programme through its Global Superior Energy Performance Partnership, one of 13 programmes under the initiative.

Mexico was developing a standard for “cool roofs”, to test and benchmark the performance and durability of reflective surfaces.

“The standard provides a technical definition of a cool roof and procedures for testing and rating cool roof materials, providing an important early step in the development of a cool roof market in Mexico,” announced CEM organizers in a press release published late on Tuesday.

Cities are expected to warm faster than their surroundings under climate change, as a result of a so-called urban heat island effect, because they made of darker, impermeable materials which dry out quickly and absorb heat.

The CEM meeting announced other, small steps in fostering cooperation and in particular sharing best practice and technical support in various fields of energy efficiency.

Pressing energy issues which would benefit from global cooperation include international energy efficiency standards for goods ranging from household appliances to cars, and the joint development of promising but expensive clean energy technologies such as carbon capture and storage.

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