BRUSSELS, April 22 (UPI) -- Renewable energy for Pacific island nations will help fight climate change and stimulate the region's economy, the European development commissioner said.
Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully announced plans Tuesday to spend four days touring Pacific islands. The aim of the tour, which begins Wednesday, is to highlight the benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
"Energy is crucial for education and healthcare, for growth, tourism and even for the supply of water," PIebalgs said in a statement. "In short, renewable energy is a country’s main route towards growth and development."
Rising sea levels attributing to climate change are endangering low-lying nations in the Pacific region. The situation is compounded further by the high costs of importing fossil fuels to their isolated territories.
Solar projects will be the primary source of investment targets for the European and New Zealand officials.
"New Zealand places great value on our partnership with the EU in the Pacific," McCully said. "Converting the region to renewable energy is critical and it is only happening at such a rapid pace because of our close cooperation with EU."