Energy is essential to heat homes and cook meals. It is needed to deliver proper health care in hospitals and to teach children. It is essential for economic growth and development and for powering industries, farms and businesses. It is at the heart of any effort to make a better life possible for people all over the world, in particular for the world’s poorest.
Sustainable Energy for All
It’s been clear here at the World Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi that the International Renewable Energy Agency, or IRENA, is fast emerging as a leader in forging a more sustainable energy future. With 159 countries—plus the EU— having joined it, a staff of 70 and a $28-million annual budget, IRENA held its third Executive Assembly here, making an impressive show on the sidelines of the summit. One example is its Renewable Energy Roadmap, which attracted lively interest among delegates.
French President François Hollande put his country on the Sustainable Energy for All train here at the World Energy Future Summit yesterday, affirming France's support for the initiative, whose advisory board is co-chaired by World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In a speech devoted to the theme of preparing for the "après pétrole" era, Hollande highlighted three steps: first, create international funds for renewable energy investment pooling resources from petroleum exporting and importing countries; second, radically rethink our model of urbanization to make it less energy intensive; and third, secure a Global Climate Change Agreement for 2015, France stands ready to host the CoP and facilitate an agreement.
Among all the noise and commitments (or lack of) coming out of Rio, an announcement by the Government of Norway, in partnership with Ethiopia, Kenya and Liberia, is worth highlighting. As part of its contribution to the Energy+ Partnership it established in October 2011, Norway is to enter into three bilateral agreements to scale up access to sustainable energy in Ethiopia's rural areas, replace kerosene lamps with solar alternatives in Kenya, and support Liberia's development of a strategic energy and climate plan, with a major emphasis on ‘payment by results’.
A successful inclusive green growth strategy has to address the question of how we generate and consume energy. Indeed, the energy question is where poverty and climate pressures meet. One in five people worldwide lives without electricity. Two in five use wood, charcoal, dung or coal to cook and heat their homes, usually at risk to their health.
On the margins of a big conference last month in Abu Dhabi with the modest (!) title of the World Future Energy Summit, an important meeting chaired by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon took place. This meeting agreed on a ‘framework document’ for launching the Sustainable Energy for All (SEFA) Initiative.
This SEFA Initiative has three goals: universal energy access, double the share of renewable energy in the global mix (from the current 15% to 30%), and double the improvement in energy efficiency…all of which are to be achieved by 2030.
It will be a big challenge. To give you an idea of just how big, consider these factors: