Vision of Efficiency, Renewables May Be ‘Grandiose’, but Power of Innovation Can Make It Work, Secretary-General Tells Energy Forum

5 June 2014

Vision of Efficiency, Renewables May Be ‘Grandiose’, but Power of Innovation Can Make It Work, Secretary-General Tells Energy Forum

5 June 2014
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Vision of Efficiency, Renewables May Be ‘Grandiose’, but Power of Innovation

Can Make It Work, Secretary-General Tells Energy Forum


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s closing remarks at the Sustainable Energy for All Forum, in New York, 5 June:

I really thank you for taking the time today.  We have had an uplifting and energizing morning session.  Our common goal, I think, is in sight.  We can achieve whatever we have in sight.  All these goals may be challenging, but they are achievable.

I would like to again thank you in the name of World Bank President Dr. [Jim Yong] Kim and myself for all your strong commitment and leadership.

As you may expect, I have been travelling around the world.  In many, many places, what really impressed me and what I found very heartening is that in very remote places, I have seen people very much conscious of solar energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency.

Even in Mongolia, I have seen so many Mongolian tents where they have solar panels.  Even in occupied territories, they have solar panels.  In very remote areas, people use this solar energy, and that is a huge progress.

Recently, last month, I was in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, where I visited, I think, one of the largest solar power plants.  It was quite impressive.  I thought that we could find solutions there.  Of course, the United Arab Emirates is a rich country so they can do it, but it’s not only in rich countries; even in poor countries they do this.

We have been shown clear evidence that doubling the share of renewable energy is economically viable and beneficial for all of us.  We also know that money is needed.  We are talking about $600 billion, $700 billion, but if we forge a strong partnership I think we can find that money.

Recently, apart from my normal expected responsibilities in dealing with peace and security, I have been meeting a lot of CEOs [Chief Executive Officers] of pension funds, insurance companies and national development bank presidents.  Most recently in China, I met many CEOs and national development banks, investment coalition banks.  They are very much committed, they are ready, but I think we need some public funding.

You may have this experience:  normally to use running water, you just turn the knob.  But when you are using pumps in the developing world, you have to put some water there, then pump.  And then you’ll have underground water coming out.

Similarly, the public fund can be used as leverage to encourage private funding.  The role of government, the role of United Nations, would then be to provide public funding to give private companies a sense of confidence and trust that we are going towards the right direction.  Then they will invest in the right direction.  And they should know that government and United Nations are there.

So today, I appeal to everyone to help us take our initiative to the next stage.  I count on your leadership beginning with the Climate Summit in September.

I am asking world leaders to come and declare their goals and ambitious targets, as science tells us to do, so that other leaders, other countries can also emulate and learn the lessons from that.  I am really asking all of you.

The more you bring in terms of concrete deliverables, the more we can achieve towards our objectives, and the better we can support global efforts to combat climate change and strengthen resilience.

Let me just say this:  I don’t know if this is the right venue or not, since we are talking about energy efficiency and sustainable energy, but I think you will agree if I share this personal story, this very personal observation.

I have been travelling a lot and staying in hotels.  I have seen that we are talking about improving our energy efficiency through innovation, better lighting systems.  But there is a lot of waste of energy.

This energy waste is taking place in many places in the developing world, where most of the people do not have energy access.  You see all hotels lighted all through the night, in the name of innovation and technological innovation.

And if you go to modern hotels, luxurious hotels particularly, this lighting system is very complicated.  I am just a person that cannot deal with this.  You need at least a BA [Bachelor of Arts] degree just to turn it off.

As you know, I grew up in an energy poor country, Korea.  There was no energy at all.  I studied, until I went to college, under a very small kerosene lamp.  There are still many, many people using this.  That’s why I am very conscious about saving energy, it is in my blood.

If you go to my office now, my office will be black, very dark because it is an automatic, smart system.  Once I step in, the light will come.  This is what we have done through our renovation of this building.  We have now been able to improve our energy efficiency, about 6 per cent, and we are trying to lead the way.  Can we do this through education, through social campaigns, to reduce energy waste, energy loss, particularly in the developing world?

If you go out to Manhattan and visit any hotel, I think all rooms will be full with light during daytime.  I sometimes struggled for 10 minutes to turn off all of these lights, and I sometimes have not been able to do it.  Sometimes I had to sleep with eye shield, which is very, very difficult.

So can we do this?  I hope that journalists can do this as a social campaign, and that teachers in schools will teach young students, so that they are very conscious and the way of saving energy will be in their blood, in their DNA.

While we are talking about very grandiose visions, like energy efficiency, renewable energy, at the same time, at our neighbours’, just next to you, there is a lot of waste that we could use to give to people who are in need of energy.

These are personal observations, but I’m sure a lot of people share them.

Let us try to do even small things.  I think small things can create bigger things.  That’s the best way.

So our Advisory Board members should, I hope, discuss about how to save our energy, reduce our energy loss, with the power of innovation.  The Sustainable Energy for All Advisory Board and its committees will continue to work closely with you.  Together I know we can succeed.  Let us work together to make this work better for all.  Thank you.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.