For Those Who Doubt Sustainable Energy in Reach, Secretary-General Tells World Future Energy Summit to Look No Further than Spread of Mobile Phone Technology

16 January 2012

For Those Who Doubt Sustainable Energy in Reach, Secretary-General Tells World Future Energy Summit to Look No Further than Spread of Mobile Phone Technology

16 January 2012
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

For Those Who Doubt Sustainable Energy in Reach, Secretary-General Tells World

Future Energy Summit to Look No Further than Spread of Mobile Phone Technology

Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the World Future Energy Summit opening, in Abu Dhabi, 16 January:

Energy is central to everything we do — from powering our economies to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, from combating climate change to underpinning global security.  It is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity and preserving the environment.

I understand the power of energy first-hand.  It transformed my life, my own life, when I was a young boy in post-war Korea.  A simple light bulb illuminated a whole new world of opportunity for me, enabling me to study day and night.  This memory has stayed with me such a long time, throughout my life.  I want the same opportunity for all young boys and girls around the world.

Widespread energy poverty still condemns billions to darkness, to ill-health, to missed opportunities for education and prosperity.  That is why I say, energy poverty must end.  Development is not possible without energy.  It is neither just nor sustainable that one person in five lacks access to modern electricity.  It is not acceptable that 3 billion people — 3 billion people — have to rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating.

We need to turn on the lights for all households.  To do that, we need to scale up successful examples of clean energy and energy-efficient technologies.  We need innovation that can spread throughout the developing world — where energy demand is growing fastest.  We need partnerships with the private sector, which are the global engine of growth and the primary source of new investments.  And we need visionary leadership from you — all of you — from Governments, from the private sector, from investors and from civil society.

When access to energy services is combined with strategies that enhance incomes, and that strengthen public infrastructure, we can expect substantial and rapid progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.  But, ending energy poverty is only one half of the energy equation.  Sustainable development needs sustainable energy.

Our planet is overheating.  We need to turn down this global thermostat.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, tells us, unequivocally, that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to half by 2050 to keep global temperature rise to below 2° C since preindustrial times.  According to the International Energy Agency, we are nearing the “point of no return”.  At Durban last month, countries agreed on a timetable for a binding accord in which all nations would pledge to reduce emissions.

But we cannot postpone action on sustainable energy while the negotiations continue.  Nor can we continue to allow energy poverty, this way, to jeopardize progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.  That is why I established my Sustainable Energy for All Initiative.  It brings all key stakeholders to the table.  It seeks to generate the action we need now.

I have established three objectives to reach by 2030:  ensuring universal access to modern energy services to all the people around the world; doubling the rate in improvement of energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.  These objectives — described in my Vision Statement released last November — are ambitious but achievable.  They are fully complementary.  I have appointed a High-level Group from business, finance, Government and civil society to spearhead action on the initiative.  Our host, Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, brings great energy of his own to this effort.  I encourage you to engage with the Group.  Bring us your best ideas and boldest commitments.

The Group has created a framework for a robust Action Agenda that we will develop in consultation with all relevant stakeholders in time for the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development.  It proposes national and international action to expand energy access, promote efficiency standards and policies, and strengthen investment in renewables.  We will launch a formidable coalition of interests with clear commitments in Rio.

Rio is our generational opportunity to create the future we want.  But Rio is not the end.  It is but the beginning of a multi-year mission to achieve Sustainable Energy for All.  I urge you all to contribute.  We are here to build a new energy future, a future that harnesses the power of technology and innovation in the service of people and the planet.

Sustainable energy for all is within our reach.  For those who may doubt, I say look no further than the phenomenal spread of mobile phone technology.  It has touched every corner of the world and empowered billions of people — a direct result of innovation, investment and government support.  We can create a similar paradigm with sustainable energy.

I am personally committed to sustainable energy for all, and to mobilizing the entire United Nations system behind it.  But we cannot do it alone.  We need your partnership, your support, your commitment, your leadership and your action.  Together, we can create a cleaner, safer, more prosperous world for all.  I thank you very much for your leadership and commitment.  Thank you.

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