6 December 2011

Secretary-General Urges Governments to Take Long-term View on Renewable Energy, Spelling Out Priorities at ‘Clean Industrial Revolution’ Event in Durban

6 December 2011
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General Urges Governments to Take Long-term View on Renewable Energy,

Spelling Out Priorities at ‘Clean Industrial Revolution’ Event in Durban


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery at the event on “Clean Industrial Revolution” in Durban on 6 December:

I am pleased to see such a diverse group here today.

One of the main lessons I have learned during my five years as Secretary-General is that broad partnerships are the key to solving broad challenges.  When Governments, the United Nations, businesses, philanthropies and civil society work hand-in-hand, we can achieve great things.  We have seen it in the field of women’s and children’s health and in scaling up food nutrition.  And we are applying the same proven approach to energy.

Energy is central to everything we do.  It cuts across all sectors of Government and lies at the heart of a country’s core interests.  Energy also lies at the heart of our efforts to avoid dangerous climate change.  It is central to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  It is key to sustainable development.

The world population now stands at 7 billion people — and rising.  Forty per cent of these people still lack access to modern forms of energy.  They are the energy-poor.  Energy poverty means children cannot study at night, clinics and hospitals cannot offer quality health care, businesses and economies cannot grow in the dark.  We need to tackle energy poverty.

Yet the clear and present danger of climate change means we cannot burn our way to prosperity.  We already rely too heavily on fossil fuels.  We need to find a new, sustainable path to the future we want.  We need a clean industrial revolution.

Last year, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution declaring 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.  I was “energized” by that resolution.

This September, I launched my Sustainable Energy for All Initiative.  It is gathering the broad-based support we need from emerging economies, developing countries, developed countries, the private sector and civil society.

To help to develop an Action Agenda and catalyse action on the ground, I have appointed a High-level Group on Sustainable Energy for All.  The Group includes global leaders from business, finance, Governments and civil society around the world.

I am calling for action around three objectives, all to be achieved by 2030:  first, to ensure universal access to modern energy services; second, to double the rate of improvement of energy efficiency; third, to double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

Taken together, these sustainable development goals will enhance equity, revitalize the global economy and help protect our ecosystems.

Next month marks the launch of the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.  I will be at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, where we will preview a framework of our global Action Agenda.

Six months later, at the “ Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, we will announce commitments from the private sector, Governments and civil society that will drive our agenda forward.

Many of you in this room today are from the private sector.  You are here because you realize that business as usual is no longer viable.  You can contribute to Sustainable Energy for All by making your companies, practices and supply chains more efficient.

And you can put the weight of your investment behind innovation.  Many are already doing so.  A newly released study found that, last year, for the first time, renewable energy surpassed fossil fuels in new power-plant investments.  Investments in electricity from wind, sun, waves and biomass outpaced natural gas, oil and coal by almost 20 per cent.

This is encouraging news.  Despite a difficult economic climate, companies and investors are seeing the long-term benefits in the renewable energy sector.

Here at Durban, we are asking Governments to take the same long view — to invest in our common future by making progress towards a comprehensive binding climate agreement that is fair to all.  Fair to business that needs a solid market framework; fair to developed and developing economies alike; and fair to the poorest and most vulnerable people of our planet, who stand to be hit first and worst by the increasing impacts of climate change.

Here in Durban, I urge all to take the long view, for the sake of the future we want.

* *** *

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