Copenhagen, Denmark

02 November 2014

Secretary-General's remarks at Copenhagen Energy Security Dialogues

It is a great pleasure for me to take this opportunity to discuss with you matters of our common concern, matters of our humanity on energy and climate change.

I thank the Government of Denmark and the German Marshall Fund of the United States for bringing us together to discuss important subjects.

Copenhagen is known for its beauty – and its energy.

This city hosts the Climate Technology Centre of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. My Sustainable Energy for All initiative also has a hub here on energy efficiency. And Copenhagen welcomes the Global Green Growth Forum every year. I myself have participated already twice.

I have come here from the Horn of Africa. There, millions of people are affected by conflict, poverty and environmental threats, including the impacts of climate change. I have seen for myself these deadly effects affecting many people in the Horn of Africa, particularly in Dadaab refugee camp.

They are making progress – but we need to support them. That is why I was there to help them.

I travelled with the President of the World Bank, Dr. [Jim] Kim, and top officials from the African Union, the African Development Bank and the European Union. We brought a clear message of solidarity to help the Horn of Africa achieve development and peace.

Energy will be an important part of that effort – and so will climate action.

Countries of the Horn of Africa face serious energy and environmental problems – but globally we all need to address these issues.

It is not my purpose of [only] addressing the Horn of Africa situation. I’m mentioning this, my most recent visit, to give you an example how climate change is affecting all people around the world, regardless of where you are coming from.

That is why I am asking European Union leaders to take firm action.

In that regard, I highly commend the global vision of European Union leaders who have taken such decisive action to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent from by 2030. That is what I have been really hoping. This is one of the major achievements immediately after the Climate Change Summit which I convened.

I really thank you for your leadership. This is bold leadership.

I have made climate change as a top prioirty of the UN. You may say you have so many top priorities, when it comes to Central Africa or South Sudan or Ukraine, then you always say it’s a top priority. But this climate change issue is the one which affects all people around the world, all spectrums of our life are endangered if we do not take action on this.

I wanted to broaden this cause. Climate change is not just a matter for environmentalists and/or scientists. It is a major development challenge that can also lead to serious security threats.

If people are affected by climate change, then they will fight for limited resources. Then this will be developed into armed conflict and violence which will endanger the political and social stability of countries.

Mega-disasters associated with climate change cause untold human suffering.

They are also devastating institutions and erode public trust. In the worst cases, this can cause a security vacuum. I have witnessed myself as Secretary-General such cases in the world.

When people are competing for scarce resources, then this can easily turn into conflict which we have to prevent.

Governments must mobilize in response to climate change. This is essential for truly sustainable development.

The United Nations is focused on three linked priorities for next year:

First, we have to accelerate our continuing efforts to meet the targets of the Millennium Development Goals.

Second, we have to shape this bold and ambitious post-2015 development agenda by the end of next year.

Then thirdly we have to have a global, meaningful climate change agreement by next December next year in Paris.

A transformative approach to energy can drive all these priorities to a successful realization.

Countries have already signalled that energy will be part of the new generation of sustainable development goals. Indeed, the Member States have identified sustainable energy as one of the important goals already which will be continuously discussed and deliberated.

Around the world, we are seeing profound changes in how energy is supplied, transformed and delivered. This trend can benefit development, human health and the environment – while responding to climate change.

But we need to manage progress so that it benefits all people.

For that we need a framework that balances cooperation and competition.

We need to reduce the strain on resources while creating sustainable wealth for the world’s growing population.

The Sustainable Energy for All initiative which I have launched in 2011 is mobilizing governments, businesses, finance and civil society to transform the world’s energy systems.

Commitments worth billions of dollars have already been pledged. More than 80 developing countries have joined the initiative. All sectors are moving forward with real actions on the ground.

This is a public-private partnership. It has three goals [we are] aiming [for] by 2030.

First, we have to provide energy access to all seven billion people on this earth.

Second, we have to double energy efficiency. You should know there is huge energy waste, particularly in the developing world, where they need most this energy. They are just wasting it.

Third, we need to double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

Those are three goals which seem to be very ambitious but I think it is doable by 2030. That is our firm vision.

In that regard, while I appreciate the European Union’s very bold decision to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent, I hope the European Union will do more in enhancing the level of use of renewable energy from 27 per cent to a higher level. That’s [what I am] urging to European leaders.

These goals must be achieved so that we will be able to achieve all other sustainable development goals. Collectively, they offer massive new investment opportunities.

Working together, we can light rural clinics, empower local businesses and invigorate economies.

The Climate Summit in September was an unprecedented mobilization.

It launched two renewable energy initiatives: the African Clean Energy Corridor and the SIDS Lighthouses for small island developing States.

The Prime Minister of Denmark, Her Excellency Helle Thorning-Schmidt, has co-chaired [the] energy [action session] during my Climate Summit meeting. I really appreciate her leadership.

We also broke new ground with a new Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform. This public-private platform for energy efficiency again aims to double energy efficiency by 2030, save more than 1 gigaton of carbon emissions annually by 2025, and save tens of billions of dollars.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have seen energy solutions around the world.

In New Zealand and Iceland, I toured major geothermal plants.

In Nairobi, I learned about Kenya’s windpower and geothermal power.

In the Gulf, I met with energy ministers from all the regions. I have seen oil-producing countries exploring the potential of renewable energies. They are investing a lot in solar power and solar energy and wind power and energy.

I have seen solar panels being built in Vilnius, Lithuania and in Denver in the United States.

In Turkey, I drank coffee that was prepared by hydrogen energy technology.

And at United Nations offices in different parts of the world, I have overseen improvements in our own energy use.

The United Nations is bringing the world together on energy because energy is central to our future well-being as a human family.

I myself was born and raised in an energy-poor country. When I was a young boy, everybody was poor, everything was scarce, particularly energy. I had to study under a very dim kerosene lamp light. When there were examinations, I bought candles, until I became a freshman in college. When I came to Seoul, I was able to use [electric] lights for my studies.

Having come through this process, I know how important is energy to all people. Outside of Denmark, in Africa, in the developing world part, 1.4 billion people live in darkness. We have to eliminate this kind of energy poverty. That is our target: by 2030 provide energy access to all people around the world.

Before I conclude, I would like to emphasize again the importance of working together to address climate change. I am very encouraged and honoured when I launched this IPCC Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report, it clearly said, without ambiguity and with greater certainty and clarity, that climate change is happening much, much faster than we expected, and it is happening because of human influence. Then the answer is clear: when it is caused by human beings then it is up to human beings. We have to take all the necessary measures to stop this before we will have to regret what will happen to our succeeding generations.

I’m told by scientists during the last 30 years we have generated the most amount of greenhouse gas emissions. This is the first time, the most serious period when we are suffering these greenhouse gas emissions, in 800,000 years. They are making alarming scientific facts but at the same time, encouragingly, they are providing good options. If we take action now, decisive and urgent action, to put us on a sustainable path, by limiting global temperature rise within below two degrees centigrade, then I think still we are not too late. We can make this world sustainable in social, economic and environmental aspects.

Let us work to make this world better for all, sustainable, so that everybody will not be left behind.

That is our commitment, and I thank you for your commitment and leadership.

Thank you.