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UN Report: Clean Energy Takes Majority of Funding from Fossil Fuels in 2008

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Over half of the US$250 billion invested in new power generating capacity worldwide in 2008 was spent on renewable energy sources, according to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report launched on Wednesday.

The report, entitled "Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2009," said that of the US$155 billion invested in clean energy, more than two-thirds went to renewable energy projects from geothermal and wind to solar and biofuels, and US$13.5 billion on companies ramping up new technology development.

The new study, prepared by research firm New Energy Finance, reported that last year's investment in clean energy quadrupled the amount in 2004, and topped the record breaking year of 2007 by five per cent, although outlay was down 17 per cent in the second half of 2008 on the first half, a trend continuing in 2009.

"Without doubt the economic crisis has taken its toll on investments in clean energy when set against the record-breaking growth of recent years," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

As investment in low carbon energy fell in the United States by two percent and growth slowed in Europe, the bright spots in 2008 came mostly from developing economies, said Steiner, who is also UN under-secretary-general.

"China became the world's second largest wind market in terms of new capacity and the world's biggest photovoltaic manufacturer, and a rise in geothermal energy may be getting underway in countries from Australia to Japan and Kenya," he said.

Other developing economies, such as Brazil, Chile, Peru and the Philippines, are establishing "policies and laws fostering clean energy as part of a Green Economy."

Steiner said that Mexico, the global host of World Environment Day (WED) on June 5, is set "to double its target for energy from renewables to 16 per cent as part of a new national energy policy."

At almost US$52 billion, wind energy companies and projects attracted the highest amount of new investment, and solar power made the largest gains with US$33.5 billion, 49 per cent growth, while biofuel investment dropped by nine per cent to US$16.9 billion.

The launch of the new report kicked off a series of observances of the WED at the UN headquarters in New York, which also include a photo exhibition and an interfaith observance held respectively on Thursday and Friday.

(Xinhua News Agency June 4, 2009)