Speaking at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced that more than one hundred commitments and actions have been already mobilized in support of the UN’s global sustainable energy initiative.
“Achieving sustainable energy for all is not only possible, but necessary – it is the golden thread that connects development, social inclusion and environmental protection,” Secretary-General Ban said at a press conference at Rio+20, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Launched in September 2011, the Sustainable Energy for All initiative brings together governments, businesses and civil society groups in an unprecedented effort to help make the world’s energy systems more accessible, efficient and cleaner. It is designed to catalyze global action in support of three, interlinked and complimentary objectives, all to be achieved by 2030 – ensure universal access to modern energy services, double the global rate of improvement of energy efficiency, and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
“This initiative is already mobilizing significant action from all sectors of society. Working together, we can provide solutions that drive economic growth, expand equity and reduce the risks of climate change,” Mr. Ban said.
The International Energy Agency estimates that 1.3 billion people – one in five globally – lack electricity to light their homes or conduct business. Twice that number – nearly 40 per cent of the world’s population – rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste to cook food, resulting in toxic smoke that causes lung disease and death.
More than 40,000 people – including heads of State and government, parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, business and civil society leaders – are attending Rio+20, between 20-22 June. It seeks to shape new policies to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.
“Sustainable Energy for All provides a powerful model for the future,” the UN chief said. “The UN is bringing all key stakeholders to the table to work in common cause for the common good. This initiative shows the power of partnership and ability of the United Nations to spearhead transformational change.”
Among the commitments and actions agreed upon by Governments, Ghana, one of the first countries to partner with the initiative, has developed a national energy action plan to support capacity-development and innovative financing mechanisms. Countries initiating or completing similar assessments include Bangladesh, Kenya, Mozambique, Nepal, Tajikistan, Uruguay and Vietnam. Meanwhile, Brazil, the host country for Rio+20, has committed to investing a further $4.3 billion to achieve universal energy access at a national level by 2014.
Among the commitments and actions agreed upon by private sector corporations, small and medium-scale enterprises, Microsoft has committed to going carbon neutral and will be rolling out an internal carbon fee that will apply to Microsoft’s business operations in over 100 countries. Italian energy company Eni has earmarked approximately $5 billion to achieve its gas flaring and carbon intensity reduction goals; and, the Renault-Nissan Alliance has committed approximately $5 billion to commercialize affordable zero-emission vehicles.
Among the commitments and actions agreed upon by financial institutions, donors and development banks, the Bank of America has set a ten year $50 billion environmental business goal, while the World Bank Group has committed to doubling the leverage of its energy portfolio by mobilizing private, donor and public contributions to World Bank-supported projects, as well as supportive policies to expand energy access, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Among the commitments and actions agreed upon by non-governmental organizations, artists, academia, and individuals, members of the rock band Linkin Park have launched a campaign urging world leaders at Rio+20 to end energy poverty, while India’s Energy and Resources Institute has committed to expanding lighting services to households in several developing countries, using solar and other clean energy technologies, by 2018. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, along with 40 other professional associations, has pledged to mobilize their two million members worldwide in support of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative.
Since the Sustainable Energy for All initiative’s launch last year, more than 50 Governments from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Small Islands Developing States have engaged with the initiative and are developing energy plans and programmes. The majority are from developing countries that have initiated or completed energy sector assessments and gap analyses, thus laying the groundwork to scale up action in priority areas, undertake strategic reforms where needed, and attract new investments and financial support.
In addition, businesses and investors have committed more than $50 billion to achieve the initiative’s three objectives, and hundreds of actions and commitments are underway in support of the initiative, supported by businesses, donors, entrepreneurs, organizations, artists, and individual volunteers.
In November 2011, Secretary-General Ban announced the members of a high-level group – consisting of 46 members who are global leaders in business, finance, government and civil society – tasked with mobilizing action among governments, the private sector and civil society for the initiative.
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