Ban Ki-moon: Remarks at World Future Energy Summit opening

16 Jan 2012

Abu Dhabi


Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Mr. President of the General Assembly,
Your Excellency Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Energy is central to everything we do – from powering our economies to achieving the Millennium Development Goals… from combating climate change to underpinning global security.

It is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity and preserving the environment.  

I understand the power of energy first-hand.

It transformed my life when I was a boy in post-war Korea.  

A simple light bulb illuminated a whole new world of opportunity for me, enabling me to study day or night.

This memory has stayed with me throughout my life.

I want the same opportunity for all children.

Widespread energy poverty still condemns billions to darkness… to ill-health… to missed opportunities for education and prosperity.

That is why I say, energy poverty must end.  

Development is not possible without energy.

It is neither just nor sustainable that one person in five still lacks access to modern electricity.

It is not acceptable that three billion people have to rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating.

We need to turn on the lights for all households.

To do that, we need to scale up successful examples of clean energy and energy-efficient technologies.

We need innovation that can spread throughout the developing world -- where energy demand is growing fastest.  

We need partnerships with the private sector, which is the global engine of growth and the primary source of new investments.

And we need visionary leadership from you – from governments, from the private sector, from investors and from civil society.

Ladies and gentlemen,

When access to energy services is combined with strategies that enhance incomes, and that strengthen public infrastructure, we can expect substantial and rapid progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

But, ending energy poverty is only one half of the energy equation.

Sustainable development needs sustainable energy.

Our planet is over-heating.

We need to turn down the global thermostat.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us, unequivocally, that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by half by 2050 to keep global temperature rise to below 2 degrees since pre-industrial times.  

According to the International Energy Agency, we are nearing the “point of no return”.

At Durban last month, countries agreed on a timetable for a binding accord in which all nations would pledge to reduce emissions.  

But we cannot postpone action on sustainable energy while the negotiations continue.  

Nor can we continue to allow energy poverty to jeopardize progress toward the MDGs.

That is why I established my Sustainable Energy for All Initiative.  

It brings all key stakeholders to the table.

It seeks to generate the action we need now.  

I have established three objectives to reach by 2030.

Ensuring universal access to modern energy services…

Doubling the rate in improvement of energy efficiency…

And doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

These objectives -- described in my Vision Statement released last November -- are ambitious, yet achievable.

They are fully complementary.

I have appointed a High-level Group from business, finance, government and civil society to spearhead action on the initiative…

Our host, Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, brings great energy of his own to this effort.

I encourage you to engage with the Group.  Bring us your best ideas and boldest commitments.

The Group has created a framework for a robust Action Agenda that we will develop in consultation with all relevant stakeholders in time for the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development.

It proposes national and international action to expand energy access, promote efficiency standards and policies, and strengthen investment in renewables.

We will launch a formidable coalition of interests with clear commitments in Rio.  

Rio is our generational opportunity to create the future we want.

But Rio is not the end.  It is but the beginning of a multi-year mission to achieve Sustainable Energy for All.  

I urge you all to contribute.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are here to build a new energy future… a future that harnesses the power of technology and innovation in the service of people and the planet.

Sustainable energy for all is within our reach.

For those who may doubt, I say look no further than the phenomenal spread of mobile phone technology.

It has touched every corner of the world and empowered billions of people – a direct result of innovation, investment and government support.

We can create a similar paradigm with sustainable energy.

I am personally committed to sustainable energy for all, and to mobilizing the UN system behind it.

But we cannot do it alone.

We need your partnership... your commitment… your action.

Together, we can create a cleaner, safer, more prosperous world for all.

Thank you.