Calling for ‘Green Energy Revolution’, Secretary-General, at Oslo Energy Conference Urges Support for Global Sustainable Energy Action Plan

10 October 2011

Calling for ‘Green Energy Revolution’, Secretary-General, at Oslo Energy Conference Urges Support for Global Sustainable Energy Action Plan

10 October 2011
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Calling for ‘Green Energy Revolution’, Secretary-General, at Oslo Energy


Conference Urges Support for Global Sustainable Energy Action Plan


Following are the remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Conference on “Energy for All:  Financing Access for the Poor”, in Oslo, 10 October:

I am delighted to be here in this well-lit hall, surrounded by these modern conveniences.  We are all dependent on phones, and light, and heating, and air conditioning, and refrigeration.  But consider all the people who do not have the benefit of modern energy services.

Later this month, the global population will top 7 billion people.  One person in five lacks access to modern energy; the 3 billion people rely on charcoal or wood for cooking and heating.

They are energy-poor.  And energy poverty is translated into grinding, dehumanizing poverty.  Parents cannot grow enough food or adequately support their families without irrigation pumps, or electricity for business activities.

Women spend hours each day on the activities of routine subsistence — pounding grain, hauling water and gathering firewood.  And when they cook over open fires, they and their children are exposed to harmful pollutants from inhaled smoke.

Health clinics and schools cannot function properly without electricity.  Children don’t receive necessary health care – including vaccines that need to be kept cold.  They cannot study after dark.

Clearly, energy poverty is a threat to the achievement of all of the Millennium Development Goals.  It holds back economic growth and job creation.  The answer is to provide access to affordable energy for all.  According to the International Energy Agency, financing universal energy access would cost only about 3 per cent of total global investments in energy.

Doing this can reduce poverty, create jobs, empower women [and] increase competitiveness.

But, ladies and gentlemen, we need energy not only to be universal, we need it to be clean — to be sustainable as well.

From 7 billion now, the world’s population will climb to more than 9 billion by the middle of the century.  Humanity’s growth has already started to alter the climate.  We cannot continue to burn our way to prosperity.  The only way to minimize the risks of dangerous climate change is by ensuring that energy is sustainable.

In short, we need a clean energy revolution.  We require a radical departure from current practices and existing realities.  That is why we are calling for practical and large-scale action:  bold solutions; economically viable projects and programmes; human and institutional capacity development; and appropriately funded and managed policies.

Last month, I launched a “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative.  I have established a High-level Group from the private sector, Governments and civil society to develop a clear Global Action Agenda for the next two decades.

It aims to catalyse action among a broad array of partners to help meet three interlinked global objectives by 2030.  First, ensuring universal access to modern energy services; second, doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency; [and] third, doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

These objectives are ambitious.  They are necessary.  And they are achievable.  Together, they can help to revitalize the global economy, combat climate change, and go a long way toward ensuring equal opportunity for all.

Next year, world leaders will address these issues at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.  We need to connect the dots between energy security, food and nutrition security, water security, climate security and development.

Rio+20 is an important opportunity to mobilize support for clean energy investments.  But it will require commitment and leadership.  Governments need to create the right incentives.  The private sector can — and must — drive the energy revolution by investing in clean energy solutions now.

We need to increase both private and public spending on basic research and development.  We need to show that universal access is feasible.

I have seen how Governments and the private sector are investing in sustainable energy — from wind power to hydro — to bring power to more people.  I saw it in Kenya earlier this year when I visited a geothermal power plant.  I have seen it at the rivers of Ethiopia.  I have seen how China is becoming a world leader in solar energy.

In Brazil, the Light for All initiative has brought 10 million Brazilians out of darkness.  The Brazilian Government and international organizations are partnering with Eletrobras to bring electricity to all rural areas by 2015 — the most ambitious energy access programme in the world.

These examples show there are no fundamental technical constraints to making sustainable energy for all a reality.  In this regard, I welcome Norway’s strong leadership and commitment to universal energy access and to Sustainable Energy for All.   Norway’s Energy+ initiative, being launched today, is innovative and forward-looking.  Together, the United Nations and Norway have taken up the challenge to raise energy to the top of the political agenda.

I am confident this partnership can provide important inspiration in achieving the objectives we want Member States to endorse at Rio.

Saving our planet, lifting the poor from poverty, and advancing economic growth for all are one and the same cause.  Sustainable energy for all is critical for human progress — health, education, security, job generation and economic competitiveness.

That is why I have decided to place energy at the centre of our sustainable development strategy.  Together we can achieve universal energy access by 2030.  Let us not stand and curse the darkness.  Let us eliminate it, and in so doing provide opportunity and hope for all.

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