Switzerland – Weeks 3 & 4

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Bonjur!

Sorry for missing last week – I was feeling a little under the weather. There has been thisIMG_2345 hybrid flu/cold bug going around. Plus, I went for a hike in 20 degree, snowing conditions in the Alps.. probably not the smartest idea but hey, you only live once. However, I did pay for it, I was out for a day and had to just rest up with a ton of orange juice (nothing like the delicious nectar I left behind in Florida..).

Other than shaking off a little illness, it was a fairly uneventful last two weeks compared to the previous ones, at least in terms of adventurous activities. I was finally able to glean enough information to understand, in part, what my primary objective(s) will be. Since I was only afforded the dime tour of how the UNECE operates, I gathered as much about the order of operations as I could on my own with assistance from UN interns of years past during week 3.

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Week 4, however, felt like it was a very productive week for me. I spent the bulk of the week compiling data into a table in which it displayed all 56 UNECE member states and criteria pertaining to renewable energy uptake. Fortunately, most of the grunt work had been completed thanks to REN21’s 2014 Global Status Report, however, I needed to extract only our 56 member states. The table is broken into three section:

  1. National Targets and Strategies: Here, we note if the nation has Renewable Targets, or a Renewable Energy Strategy in place (i.e. a road map to implement renewables.)
  2. Regulatory Mechanisms: These include instruments that allow for governments to require renewable energy uptake including:
    • Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (requires industries or individuals to maintain certain levels of renewable energy utilization),
    • Feed-in Tariffs,
    • Renewable Energy Credits
    • Net Metering, etc.
  3. Fiscal Incentives/Public Financing: These are financial schemes/incentives, that are designed to attract investment (public and private) towards renewable energy. These include:
    • Subsidies
    • Public Investments
    • Energy Production Credits, etc.

After compiling the data, I tallied the results and began graphing/comparing the data six ways to Sunday. For instance, 28 of the 56 UNECE member states are within the European Union, how do those countries compare? How do the results compare regionally; sub-regions of Europe are categorized in many, sometimes contentious ways (western Europe, Caucuses, Balkans, central Asia, Russia, North America, etc). How does the data looked when arranged by gross national income averages? How about when we look at those who import/export the largest amounts of fossil fuels? And so on…… all week, once the data set was created, I tried to think of as many scenarios in which it may be relevant to present those that are excelling/struggling at implementing renewable energy technologies.

Aside from the endless data analysis at the UN, I’ve continued to meet some pretty great people. So far, everyone I have met has been genuine (with the exception of an American I met… imagine that!). I was certainly nervous coming into this whole endeavor, especially trying to meet others who may not view Americans in the highest regard, but it has been the total opposite of what I expected. I quickly realized everyone is in the same boat: they are foreign, new, overwhelmed with the tasks they need to complete, and a little homesick. Sitting in the cafeteria at the UN, it is so easy to pick out those that are interns and those that are full-time employees; the full timers are usually content, obviously focused on whatever preoccupied them before lunch, sitting alone or with one other person, whereas, us interns are sitting in large tables together, laughing, joking, completed intrigued about our cultural differences. It is nice to easily congregate as interns and forget about our difficult objectives and simply enjoy where we are, talk about how we all got here, and learn how common we all really are.

With as much progress that was made the last two weeks, I am hoping to carry this momentum into next week and come out with some great results. Next weekend is shaping to be a fun filled one (Toboggan tracks, alpine towns, and the Geneva Motor Show!).

Au Revoir!

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