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The Secretary-General's Press Conference Abu Dhabi, 16 January 2012

SG: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to be here for the global launch of the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.

I have come to Abu Dhabi with one simple message.

Sustainable energy for all is both necessary and achievable.

We need to engineer a new energy future, a future that harnesses the power of technology and innovation in the service of people and our planet.

Sustainable Energy for All is good for the economy, good for the environment and good for global equity.

It is the way of the future.  

That is why I have created my Sustainable Energy for All initiative.  

Our goal is to reduce poverty and provide opportunity to all, to drive global economic dynamism and to combat climate change.

This is a triple win for tough times.

One in every five people on this planet has no access to modern electricity.

This is inequitable and unsustainable.  It is time to end energy poverty.

At the same time, our planet is heating up. Climate change threatens lives, peace and prosperity.

We need to turn power on for every household, while turning down the global thermostat.  

We must act now to build a clean energy economy.

My Sustainable Energy for All initiative calls for action on three complementary objectives, all to be achieved by 2030.  You have heard many times, but let me repeat again:

First: to provide universal access to sustainable energy.

Second: to double the rate that energy efficiency is improved.

Third: to double the percentage of renewables in the global energy mix.

I have appointed a High-level Group to develop an Action Agenda.

It is co-chaired by Kandeh Yumkella, the Chair of UN Energy and Executive Director of the UN Industrial Development Organization, and Charles Holliday, Chairman of Bank of America.

They are with us today.

The Group is working hard to mobilize commitments – in boardrooms, in government ministries and in communities around the world.

Together we can create momentum that is truly game-changing.  

The private sector will play a critical role.

It can drive innovation and unleash considerable investments.

But the efforts of the private sector need to be buttressed by governments providing the right enabling policies.  

The UN system, for its part, is gearing up for the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in June this year.

We will announce commitments to the initiative at Rio.

And we will publicly track progress toward achieving the objectives.

Accountability is crucial.

Sustainable energy for all will transform lives, economies and the environment.

It will help build the future we want.

Thank you very much and  I am now happy to take your questions.

Q: You made a very moving speech earlier on at the opening ceremony. A very human aspect of your own personal experience with sustainability and post-war Korea, the light bulb metaphor. I thought that touched everyone and spoke to a lot of people. Stemming from that, having experienced that yourself, how do you think you are going to bridge that divide between developing countries and developed countries, the haves and have-nots when it comes to sustainability for all.

SG: If I may add some more.  When I was running for this job, during the campaign period, I have been telling the Member States that a reason to support me is that I would be in a better position than any other person to bridge the gap between the developed and developing world because I have spent most of my life in the developing world from a war-torn country to one of the developed. So I know the challenges of both sides. This is exactly what happened in terms of energy. I have been travelling to many African, poor and least developed countries where I have seen no lights during the night time. I was really sympathising with them. It really put me back to the old days when I suffered from this lack of electricity. Most of my school days I had to really study reading books and newspapers near to the oil lamp. This has given me a strong feeling. That’s why what I am doing is based on true experience. First, personal experiences and believing that we should provide energy to all the boys and girls around the world. That’s one personal conviction. Second, I am acting as the Secretary-General of the United Nations. This is based on global leadership conviction. So I hope my message is sent strong and loud and clear to world leaders. We need a political leadership role and strong support from the private sector who have a capacity to innovate and invest in technology and innovation. That’s my message.

Q: How to view China’s role in renewable energy for everybody?

SG: I just met the Chinese Prime Minister, and I have been visiting some local cities in China, not only in Beijing. China, as you know, has more than 1.3 billion people. Its modern cities are highly developed. But in western China and elsewhere they are still struggling to overcome this [poverty]. China recently has been investing a lot of money in an innovative way. China is now the second largest economy in the world. They are doing very smart investment for the future. That is why I have been citing the examples of China and India, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, some other model countries. This is quite inspiring when you visit all these developing [countries] then they know the problems. They do not wait until the international community formulates a certain framework. This framework is now targeted by 2030. Then, how long do they have to wait? It is quite inspiring that they are now committed. But when we had this initiative, this initiative really helps and spurs the already on-going initiatives by individual governments. That’s the main purpose. At this time the private sector’s participation and active investment will be key to make this initiative successful.

Q: What are the operational steps so that private sector can actually get in and work with you?

SG: Why I am emphasizing the business community is that huge, big multinational companies are doing business operations all around the world. I think they are already playing a very important role. They can play an even bigger role. According to the International Energy Agency statistics the extent of money we may need to spend until 2030 will require only three or four per cent of global investment in energy. So it is not huge money compared with the money already being spent annually.
Q: (inaudible) on Syria

SG: This press conference is for energy issues but since you asked the question I will try to be brief. I have already made my positions on many occasions quite clear. The situation has reached to an unacceptable point. I have been urging and appealing to President Assad to stop killing, to stop the bloodshed and listen to his own people. Leaders have a broad responsibility to listen to their peoples’ concerns and needs, and guarantee their life in a dignified way. Therefore leaders should always be connected with the people. When leaders are disconnected from the reality and from the people, then this situation is inevitable. I highly appreciate and commend the efforts by the League of Arab States by dispatching a monitoring team, by engaging in discussions with President Assad. I sincerely hope that they will be able to carry on, and I understand that they are going to meet again at a ministerial meeting sometime next week. Again, they should be able to have a very clear, concrete course of action. At the same time it is important that the United Nations speaks in a coherent manner. I sincerely hope that the Security Council will handle this with a sense of seriousness and gravity in a coherent manner. I know that there are some differences of opinions among the Member States of the Security Council. But the number of casualties has reached to such an unacceptable stage we cannot let this situation continue like this way. This is my urgent appeal.

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