UN report pushes for energy access and efficiency to fight poverty and climate change

08:31, April 29, 2010      

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Increasing access to clean energy and improving its efficiency will be vital to both enhancing global prosperity and combating climate change, according to a report issued Wednesday by an advisory group of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the nexus between energy and climate.

"We need a clean energy revolution -- in developing countries, where demand is rising rapidly, and in the developed world, in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions," the secretary-general said at the launch of the publication at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Some 3 billion people worldwide rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating, resulting in adverse health effects if used in inadequately ventilated buildings, with 1.5 billion having no access to electricity.

As well as lifting the world's poorest out of poverty, a well- performing energy system will also propel success towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and in spurring industrial development in low- and middle-income countries, according to the report by the high-level Energy and Climate Change Advisory Group.

"The decisions we make today on energy will have a profound impact on the global climate, on sustainable development, on economic growth and global security," the secretary-general said.

According to the World Bank, countries with underperforming energy systems could lose up to 2 percent of growth potential annually due to electric power outages, inefficient use of scarce energy sources and others.

The study by the Advisory Group, set up by Ban last year and comprising 20 business leaders, academics and representatives of the United Nations and civil society called on nations to commitment themselves to two key complementary goals.

First, it calls for universal access to modern energy services that are reliable, affordable, sustainable, and, if possible, from low-emissions sources by 2030.

"All countries have a role to play," the group emphasizes, urging high-income nations to make this a development assistance priority and secure financing, middle-income countries to share relevant expertise and experience; and low-income countries to help create the right local institutional, regulatory and policy environment for investments -- including by the private sector -- to be made.

The other challenge is to slash global energy intensity, measured by the quantity of energy per unit of gross domestic product (GDP), the study notes.

"Developed and developing countries alike need to build and strengthen their capacity to implement effective policies, market- based mechanisms, business models, investment tools and regulations with regard to energy use," which would reduce intensity by about 2.5 per cent annually and helping to curb carbon emissions in the coming decades.

"These are ambitious goals, but I think they are achievable," Ban told reporters at the report's launch here Wednesday. "And they are necessary."

At an event earlier this morning, he stressed that tackling the energy challenge cannot be accomplished by governments alone, but will require global cooperation and coordinated action within the UN system.



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