Renewable energies could empower millions of poor and vulnerable people who lack access to reliable, affordable and clean modern energy services, said Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in a message to the Beijing International Renewable Energy Conference that opened Monday in Beijing.
Annan said that mounting oil prices, which have hit oil-importing developing countries especially hard, highlight the need for alternative energy supplies.
The "energy divide" entrenches poverty, said Annan. Renewable energy could instead buttress livelihoods and provide opportunities for healthier lives and more productive activities.
It could also help combat climate change by contributing to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, he said in the message.
The conference is a major global event in renewable energy following the Bonne Renewables 2004. More than 600 foreign representatives from over 80 countries are attending the conference. Thirty-plus delegations are being led by their ministers. As some forms of renewable energy require large capital investment, Annan encouraged working in partnership -- public-private, North-South, South-South--to make a difference.