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“Countries that move quickly down a clean energy pathway will be the economic powerhouses of the 21st century,” Mr. Ban stated yesterday during a round table in the United States city of Denver on sustainable energy for all. “Their citizens will also enjoy cleaner air, better health, greater market competitiveness, and enhanced security.”
He said the UN system is advocating three energy targets which will help address the “energy poverty” that exists in much of the developing world.
Together, the objectives will enhance equity, revitalize the global economy and help protect the world’s ecosystems. They are ensuring universal access to modern energy services, doubling energy efficiency, and doubling the renewable energy share in the overall global energy mix.
“These targets are challenging, but they can be met,” said Mr. Ban, who added that tackling energy poverty is vital to efforts to achieve the set of anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“If we are to achieve these goals, we need nothing short of a clean energy revolution,” he stated. “What we need most is strong, sustained political leadership to drive this clean energy revolution forward at the speed and scale necessary,” he added.
As part of his visit, Mr. Ban met today with various leaders of the energy industry, including those involved in wind, solar and natural gas, to discuss sustainable energy for both the developed and developing world.
He also toured the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, the country’s only federal laboratory dedicated to the research, development, commercialization and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.
While there, Mr. Ban noted that as the evidence and impact of climate change increases, so does the urgency to develop new, clean ways of generating and using energy.
“And as the global demand for energy increases, this quest will become even more urgent,” he said.
The Secretary-General pointed out that just three per cent of current global energy investment could finance access to modern energy for all.
Energy and sustainable development also featured in Mr. Ban’s address last night to the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, where he received an award in recognition of his efforts to strengthen the UN, empower women and promote sustainable development.
“The sustainable development agenda is the agenda for the 21st century,” he said. “Both science and economics tell us that we need to change course – and soon.”
He noted that for most of the last century, the world mined its way to growth and burned its way to prosperity.
“Those days are over,” said Mr. Ban. “Climate change is showing that the old model is more than obsolete, it is dangerous. We need a revolution in thinking and in action. Making this happen will take major changes – in our lifestyles, our economic models and our social and political life.
“Above all, we need to connect the dots between challenges such as climate change and water scarcity, energy shortages and food,” he added.