UN to Ensure Clean and Accessible Energy to The World’s Poor

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a global clean energy revolution to address the world’s energy challenges during the Fourth World Future Energy Summit held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. There is an estimated 1.6 billion people in the developing world that still lack access to electricity.

“Our challenge is transformation. We need a global clean energy revolution – a revolution that makes energy available and affordable for all,” Ban said. “This is essential for minimizing climate risks, for reducing poverty and improving global health, for empowering women and meeting the Millennium Development Goals [eight anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline], for global economic growth, peace and security, and the health of the planet.”

Ban stressed that the decisions taken now to make a global clean energy revolution are crucial and will have far-reaching consequences. The current fossil fuel-based economy is contributing to the earth’s worsening climate while global energy needs are growing rapidly.

He also noted that energy consumption will rise by 40 percent in the next 20 years. Together with the 1.6 billion people who lack electricity access are 3 billion people who rely on traditional biomass fuels. Traditional forms of energy such as biomass fuels and coal are used for cooking, heating, as well as other basic household needs.

Set up in 2009, Ban’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change recommended two targets for 2030 – universal access to modern energy and a 40 percent increase in energy efficiency.

“To achieve this, we must invest in the intellectual capital that will create new, green technologies,” Ban said. “We need to increase private and public spending on research and development, and Governments need to create the right incentives.”

“So let us pledge to invest wisely. We need to get our priorities right. People everywhere should be able to enjoy the health, educational and social benefits that modern energy sources offer. We are on the brink of an exciting, sustainable future. Clean energy for all.”

Only last month, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2012 as the “International Year for Sustainable Energy for All.” It aims to promote new and renewable energy technologies, which include measures to improve access to such technologies.

“As we look forward to the Rio+20 Conference, let us be aware that clean energy and a low-carbon economy are among the keys to unlocking the door to a safer, more peaceful and prosperous world for all,” Ban said, reminding everyone of the Rio Earth Summit marking its 20th year. It was during this summit that a blueprint for sustainable development was made and was on top of his priority.

“We count on you – leaders of governments, civil society and the private sector – to turn this vision into reality,” he said. “Together, we can change the lives of billions of people.”

He also addressed a forum of young and future energy leaders on the need to get serious about sustainable development.

In addition to those who still rely on traditional sources of energy, Ban highlighted that 2 million people comprised of women and children die yearly because of indoor pollution. This is nearly double the number of deaths from malaria worldwide.

“This is unacceptable and it is avoidable. It is time to close the global access gap,” he added.

Mr. Ban also lauded the Abu Dhabi authorities for their Masdar Initiative, a project intended to showcase a sustainable, clean-energy future. Its centrepiece is Masdar City, a green, planned community located in Abu Dhabi, built by corporations including the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, and funded by the United Arab Emirates Government.