11 International Energy Forum

Statement by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs to the 11th International Energy Forum Rome, 22 April 2008

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Ministers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

This meeting takes place at a time of serious socio-economic
and environmental challenges. Many are directly or indirectly linked to
energy, the focus of this meeting. A sustainable energy future depends
on reliable supplies of energy.

“Moving towards a sustainable energy future” sounds
well and good, but what does it really mean? The United Nations
Commission for Sustainable Development recently undertook an in-depth
review and assessment of “energy for sustainable
development” and “climate change” and its
deliberations shed some light on this subject. The Commission
highlighted the need to improve access to sustainable energy services
by the poor. It noted that access to energy underpins the ability to
achieve sustainable development, and all of the Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs).

At present, 1.6 billion people live without electricity. Some
2.4 billion people rely on traditional biomass fuel sources to cook
their meals and heat their homes, which can be damaging to their
health, especially for children. Securing access to safe, affordable
and modern energy is one of the critical steps out of poverty and
towards sustainable development.

As we have discussed, the world’s primary energy
needs are projected to grow by 55 per cent between 2005 and 2030, at an
average annual rate of 1.8 per cent per yeari.
And fossil fuels are projected to remain the dominant source of primary

High energy prices are
attributable to a number of factors, as we have heard during these past
few days. These include fluctuating commercial stock levels,
geopolitical tensions and adverse weather conditions that have affected
production, as well as growing demand from emerging economies. The
weakening of the U.S. dollar has also played a role, and some put blame
on speculators in the financial markets.

Currently economic growth in
many regions remains robust, but the effect of an economic slowdown in
the United States is causing uncertainty. And high oil prices are
affecting many countries, in terms of trade and fiscal balances and
inflationary pressure.

Volatility in energy markets
poses risks to both energy consuming and producing countries. Energy
import-dependent countries – especially land-locked,
least-developed and small-island developing countries – are
concerned about the adverse impacts of energy prices on their
economies. Export-dependent energy producers have concerns about
slowing global growth and threats of recession.

High energy prices also
jeopardize the ability of the poor to move from consuming traditional
biomass, which often requires no cash outlay, to modern energy services
which are becoming more expensive. Those who have only recently begun
using modern energy services may now find them unaffordable. Since
access to energy is necessary for achieving the MDGs, these important
goals are threatened. Moving towards a sustainable energy future now
requires targeted action aimed at ensuring access to energy by the poor.

Many factors will shape our
energy future, but climate change is set to dominate them all. The
Secretary-General has called it one of the defining challenges of our
time. Mounting an effective global response to climate change means
that we can no longer take a business-as-usual approach to energy. We
need decisively to accelerate the de-carbonization of the world
economy, without undermining efforts to advance economic and social

To do this, we must
accelerate deployment of advanced and cleaner technologies as a
priority. Realizing the potential of technologies, such as carbon
capture and storage, requires moving rapidly from pilot projects to
full-scale deployment. The enormous potential of energy efficiency
technologies and measures has only begun to be exploited. Buildings,
vehicles, appliances and industrial equipment all offer opportunities
for efficiency improvements.

Government and the private
sector working together is critical for innovation, deployment and
dissemination of advanced and cleaner technology. Technology
cooperation will be vital for developing countries to have access to
these technologies that will enable them to pursue a low-carbon
development path.

International financial
institutions and other international organizations can provide
essential financial and technological support. Various proposals
concerning the funds to support the deployment of advanced and cleaner
technology in developing countries are timely and deserve our full

South-South cooperation on
energy and technology transfer can also play a role in addressing the
challenges that we face today. Initiatives such as the OPEC Fund offer
concrete examples of cooperation to advance the achievement of
sustainable development goals. Such initiatives could be duplicated and
promoted by other energy producing and exporting countries that are
able to do so.

I am pleased to inform you
that China has recently agreed to host an international conference to
better explore some of these issues with a view to making a
contribution to the next climate change COP in December. The Beijing
International Conference on Climate Change and Technology Cooperation
organized by China and the United Nations Department of Economic and
Social Affairs hopes to:

Let me take this opportunity
to invite you to participate.

Our shared energy future
will benefit from fair, transparent and stable energy markets;
cooperation among energy-consumers and producers; improved oil and gas
data; and an international environment that facilitates investment in
energy infrastructures.

The International Energy
Forum has a major role in enhancing the producer-consumer dialogue on
oil and natural gas. Through the Joint Oil Data Initiative (JODI), the
Forum has made a practical contribution to improving oil and gas data
exchange, thus promoting transparency in the energy market.

Moving towards a sustainable
energy future is a collective challenge for all countries and
stakeholders. I am confident that the Forum will build on the solid
foundation of its achievements so far, including by addressing issues
such as how to encourage access to modern energy services. By doing so,
you could extend your impact and further address pressing global

Thank you.