11 International Energy Forum

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Ministers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

This meeting takes place at a time of serious socio-economicand environmental challenges. Many are directly or indirectly linked toenergy, the focus of this meeting. A sustainable energy future dependson reliable supplies of energy.

“Moving towards a sustainable energy future” soundswell and good, but what does it really mean? The United NationsCommission for Sustainable Development recently undertook an in-depthreview and assessment of “energy for sustainabledevelopment” and “climate change” and itsdeliberations shed some light on this subject. The Commissionhighlighted the need to improve access to sustainable energy servicesby the poor. It noted that access to energy underpins the ability toachieve sustainable development, and all of the Millennium DevelopmentGoals (MDGs).

At present, 1.6 billion people live without electricity. Some2.4 billion people rely on traditional biomass fuel sources to cooktheir meals and heat their homes, which can be damaging to theirhealth, especially for children. Securing access to safe, affordableand modern energy is one of the critical steps out of poverty andtowards sustainable development.

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

High energy prices areattributable to a number of factors, as we have heard during these pastfew days. These include fluctuating commercial stock levels,geopolitical tensions and adverse weather conditions that have affectedproduction, as well as growing demand from emerging economies. Theweakening of the U.S. dollar has also played a role, and some put blameon speculators in the financial markets.

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

Volatility in energy marketsposes risks to both energy consuming and producing countries. Energyimport-dependent countries – especially land-locked,least-developed and small-island developing countries – areconcerned about the adverse impacts of energy prices on theireconomies. Export-dependent energy producers have concerns aboutslowing global growth and threats of recession.

High energy prices alsojeopardize the ability of the poor to move from consuming traditionalbiomass, which often requires no cash outlay, to modern energy serviceswhich are becoming more expensive. Those who have only recently begunusing modern energy services may now find them unaffordable. Sinceaccess to energy is necessary for achieving the MDGs, these importantgoals are threatened. Moving towards a sustainable energy future nowrequires targeted action aimed at ensuring access to energy by the poor.

Many factors will shape ourenergy future, but climate change is set to dominate them all. TheSecretary-General has called it one of the defining challenges of ourtime. Mounting an effective global response to climate change meansthat we can no longer take a business-as-usual approach to energy. Weneed decisively to accelerate the de-carbonization of the worldeconomy, without undermining efforts to advance economic and socialdevelopment.

To do this, we mustaccelerate deployment of advanced and cleaner technologies as apriority. Realizing the potential of technologies, such as carboncapture and storage, requires moving rapidly from pilot projects tofull-scale deployment. The enormous potential of energy efficiencytechnologies and measures has only begun to be exploited. Buildings,vehicles, appliances and industrial equipment all offer opportunitiesfor efficiency improvements.

Government and the privatesector working together is critical for innovation, deployment anddissemination of advanced and cleaner technology. Technologycooperation will be vital for developing countries to have access tothese technologies that will enable them to pursue a low-carbondevelopment path.

International financialinstitutions and other international organizations can provideessential financial and technological support. Various proposalsconcerning the funds to support the deployment of advanced and cleanertechnology in developing countries are timely and deserve our fullconsideration.

South-South cooperation onenergy and technology transfer can also play a role in addressing thechallenges that we face today. Initiatives such as the OPEC Fund offerconcrete examples of cooperation to advance the achievement ofsustainable development goals. Such initiatives could be duplicated andpromoted by other energy producing and exporting countries that areable to do so.

I am pleased to inform youthat China has recently agreed to host an international conference tobetter explore some of these issues with a view to making acontribution to the next climate change COP in December. The BeijingInternational Conference on Climate Change and Technology Cooperationorganized by China and the United Nations Department of Economic andSocial Affairs hopes to:

Let me take this opportunityto invite you to participate.

Our shared energy futurewill benefit from fair, transparent and stable energy markets;cooperation among energy-consumers and producers; improved oil and gasdata; and an international environment that facilitates investment inenergy infrastructures.

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

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

Thank you.

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

Rome, 22 April 2008