Secretary-General to Energy Finance Summit: ‘We Need to Scale Up Our Efforts and Our Ambition; the Climate Clock is Ticking’

24 April 2013

Secretary-General to Energy Finance Summit: ‘We Need to Scale Up Our Efforts and Our Ambition; the Climate Clock is Ticking’

24 April 2013
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General to Energy Finance Summit:  ‘We Need to Scale Up


Our Efforts and Our Ambition; the Climate Clock is Ticking’


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit, in New York, 24 April:

Thank you for inviting me to speak at this important meeting.  The private sector is a key United Nations partner.  We cannot tackle climate change and advance the sustainable development agenda without your support and engagement.

I am here to ask for your help.  I need you to lead by example within your industries and networks, and recruit a growing alliance of influence and action for a better world today.  It is the right thing to do, morally, but I firmly believe that, for those in the vanguard, the results will be plain to see on the bottom line.

We live in a world of 7 billion people.  By 2030 that will have risen to more than 8 billion.  We will need at least 50 per cent more food, 45 per cent more energy and 30 per cent more water.  But population isn’t the only thing that’s rising.  Standards of living are improving, and must continue to do so — for all the human family, with no exception.

But one thing imperils this progress more than any other — the rising global thermostat.  Climate change is a threat to economies large and small, and to the stability of the global financial system.

The investments needed to support a growing population must be sustainable.  We have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and rely increasingly on using energy cleanly and efficiently.  According to the UN Environment Programme, the annual cost of funding a global green economy transformation ranges between $700 billion and $1.8 trillion a year.

Progress is happening.  Clean energy investment has quadrupled over the last decade.  And last year saw a dramatic shift in the balance of renewable energy investment.  Developing countries have now overtaken developed economies as investors in utility-scale projects including wind, small hydro, biomass and geothermal.

The dramatic growth of renewable energy markets over the past decade has also brought technology improvements and cost reductions that mean projects can generate attractive returns.  Investors are opening new markets, facilitating new business models and supporting entrepreneurs in the developing world where demand for sustainable energy for all is greatest.

I encourage everyone here to explore the opportunities that will allow you to align your business needs with creating a sustainable future for all.

Clean energy is central for reducing poverty, increasing opportunity and averting the risks of climate change.  Here in Manhattan, we take energy for granted — until we lose it, such as when Hurricane Sandy struck.  Around the globe, nearly one person in five still has no access to electricity.  More than twice that number — 2.8 billion, or 40 per cent of the world’s population — rely on wood, charcoal, animal and crop waste or other solid fuels for cooking and heating.

Those of us who have access to modern energy often waste it — knowingly or unknowingly.  We must use energy more efficiently and focus on cleaner, low-carbon solutions.  This is why I launched the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative in 2011.  This public-private partnership has three objectives to be achieved by 2030:  first, to provide access to modern sources of energy for all people; second, to double the rate of energy efficiency; and third, to double the share of renewable energy globally.

These ambitious but achievable goals will open a new world of opportunity for billions of people and lead to massive new investment opportunities.  Working together, we can light rural clinics, empower local businesses and invigorate economies.  And we can do so in way that benefits the planet and future generations.

We can do the same for other sectors of our economy, too.  The water, agriculture and transportation sectors will need substantial investment.  In all areas we have a choice:  sustainable development or business as usual.  Any forward-looking investor or policymaker knows there is only one answer.

Let me turn to the question of climate change.  I do not think I need to convince you that it is a clear and present danger.  The band of sceptics is shrinking by the day.  Next year, I am convening a meeting of world leaders in New York to accelerate political momentum towards a universal legally binding global climate agreement by 2015.

A new treaty must engage all nations equitably, and be capable of limiting global temperature rise to no more than 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.  Leaders will have the opportunity to pledge new domestic action.  The event will also bring public and private partners together to advance options for new climate finance investments.

Governments have agreed to the objective of mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020 from public and private sources to finance adaptation and mitigation in the developing world.  I count on your leadership to bring public and private sectors together to overcome barriers to climate investments.

We cannot mobilize private resources without a public lever.  Smart public financing can help to unlock more private investment.  Therefore, it is imperative that developed countries deliver on their public finance commitments.

But private investment is essential to meet the growing demand for energy, climate resilience and low-emissions strategies in the developing world.  Today, I have met with private financiers to discuss how they can contribute to increasing momentum on climate finance.  In the coming months, I will engage institutional and private equity investors, finance institutions and development banks to secure new commitments.

We need to develop and support high-impact opportunities that will unlock clean energy investments; close the viability gap between green and fossil fuel-based projects and de-risk renewable energy investments.  I will count on your support and leadership.

I am encouraged by the promising trends that have been discussed over the last three days at this Summit.  But they are just the beginning.  Several factors still hold us back from achieving the large-scale energy transformation necessary to stabilize the climate.

Globally, clean energy investment is insufficient to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.  Proven innovations and solutions — from energy efficiency to emissions reductions — lack adequate incentives, while fossil fuels still enjoy generous subsidies.  Too many companies limit their sustainability efforts to pilot programmes that never take off.

We need to scale up our efforts and our ambition.  The climate clock is ticking.  The longer we delay, the greater the costs — to communities, to businesses, to economies and to the planet.

You are here because you see the big picture.  I appreciate your efforts.  Now, I urge you to do even more.  Together we can rise to this existential challenge and build a better more secure world for future generations.  Thank you.

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