25 August 2011

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Enormous Business Opportunities Exist as UN Advocates Energy Targets to Transform


Global Economy by 2030, Ensure Access to Modern Energy, Says Secretary-General


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the National Renewable Energy Laboratories in Denver, United States, 24 August:

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.  I have just come from a highly engaging round table discussion on sustainable energy for all, organized by the United Nations Foundation, the University of Colorado and the University of Denver.  I am very much looking forward to visiting this facility.  I am especially grateful to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for its contribution to the special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on clean energy.

As the evidence and impact of climate change increase, so does the urgency to develop new, clean ways of generating and using energy.  And as the global demand for energy increases, this quest will become even more urgent.

This year, the population of the planet will reach 7 billion.  By 2050, it may be 9 billion.  All will need access to modern energy.  Here in the United States, most people take access to energy for granted.  Yet, much of the world lives without electricity.  Three billion people still rely on solid fuels like wood and agricultural wastes for cooking, heating and household energy; 1.4 billion have no access to electricity at all; almost 1 billion more have only erratic power supplies.

The implications of this widespread energy poverty are enormous:  no motorized equipment, irrigation pumps or power for business activities; medical facilities that cannot function properly; women spending hours each day pounding grain, hauling water and gathering firewood.  Energy poverty is jeopardizing the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  But the world does not have to be this way.  Just 3 per cent of current global energy investment could finance access to modern energy for all.

Next year is the International Year for Sustainable Energy for All — declared by the United Nations General Assembly.  The United Nations system is advocating three energy targets that will transform the global economy by 2030.  First, ensuring universal access to modern energy services; second, doubling energy efficiency; third, doubling the renewable energy share in the overall global energy mix.

These targets are challenging, but they can be met.  Institutions such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory can help us.  So can the private sector.  There are enormous business opportunities for those who are prepared to establish modern, efficient energy generation and distribution networks.  Someone is going to do it.  The question is: who will be first?  And who will profit most?

I look forward to working together, including at next year’s “Rio+20” Conference on Sustainable Development, to address this challenge, which means so much for our common future.  Thank you.

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For information media • not an official record