16 January 2012
UN chief urges making the promise of renewable energy a reality
Now, more than ever, the world needs bold leadership to make the promise of renewable energy a reality, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday, ahead of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, calling on participants help advance the goal of a clean energy future for all.
The Secretary-General stressed the advantages of renewables for communities, for economic growth and for the planet in remarks to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) assembly.IRENA, based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, was set up in January 2009 and promotes the use of all forms of renewable energy. Its assembly took place ahead of the World Future Energy Summit, which opened on Monday and will also feature the participation of Mr. Ban and the President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.
Mr. Ban noted that IRENA members - 84 states and the European Union - recognize that renewable energy can boost competitiveness and growth while combating climate change.
“They see the potential for universal energy access, cleaner air and better public health,” he said. “They understand that we can no longer burn our way to global prosperity.”
He welcomed IRENA's work to transform the global energy system, adding that its efforts complement those of the United Nations. “Together, we can make progress on the twin challenges of sustainable growth and climate change while striking a blow against extreme poverty.”
Doubling renewable energy by 2030IRENA's Director-General, Adnan Amin, is a member of the high-level group Ban set up last year to promote his Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which seeks to ensure universal access to modern energy services, double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, all by 2030.
The group is developing an action plan and building a network of governments, companies, investors and civil society organizations that are making commitments that will be unveiled at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this June.
The Secretary-General stated that IRENA's contribution will be invaluable, including through providing timely analysis on renewable energy technologies, and suggesting policy frameworks that can unleash innovation and investment and strategies needed to scale up successful models.
"Doubling the share of renewables is ambitious but achievable," said Mr. Ban. “And the benefits far outweigh the costs – which include growing energy insecurity and accelerating climate change. Renewable energy can also address inequity and advance universal energy access.”
He noted that hydro, wind and other renewable energy technologies – large and small, on-grid and off – are expanding opportunity in Africa, Asia and elsewhere. “This is a triple win for communities around the world? for economic growth? and for the planet,” he said.
IRENA ready to generate change
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (second from right) at the IRENA closing session Abu Dhabi. With him are, from left: Adnan Z. Amin, Director General of IRENA; Salvador Namburete, Minister of Energy of Mozambique and President of the Second Assembly; and Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Chief Executive Officer at the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar). UN Photo/Evan Schneider
The conclusion of the second assembly of the IRENA signals a new era for the agency and recognition of the strategic importance of its mandate - to increase the worldwide adoption and deployment of renewable energy.
“I believe the second assembly shows that IRENA is now emerging onto the world stage as an operational intergovernmental organisation ready to generate change,” said IRENA Director General Adnan Z. Amin.
“Renewable energy will play an essential role in improving the access of millions to energy, while ensuring energy security and mitigating the risk of climate change by reducing emissions," he said.
“Renewable energy is a central element in meeting the Millennium Development Goals related to poverty alleviation, environmental sustainable development and health,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his closing address.
“Sustainability cannot be tackled by isolated action. IRENA has provided much-needed political impetus and direction to our efforts,” he said.
Assembly's outcomesThe countries’ decision to significantly increase the IRENA core budget, despite current global financial constraints, is a sign of confidence in IRENA and its activities, said Mr. Amin.
An important outcome also was the establishment of the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development procedure, which has positive implications for developing countries.
Other highlights of the two-day assembly were the interactive ministerial roundtables, one of which discussed cooperation with the private sector, while the second focused on policy issues related to IRENA’s medium-term strategy.
Activities also included technical meetings of the global solar and wind atlas, and on the competitiveness of renewable power generation.
“The UAE recognizes, like everyone here, the urgency of the widespread adoption of renewable energy technologies - with the aim of mitigating climate change, ensuring energy security and providing universal energy access. The success of IRENA is our collective success,” said Dr. Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, President of the First IRENA Assembly, UAE Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change.
“If 2011 was about ensuring that IRENA is on the right track, then 2012 will be about proving that we are able – together – to seize this unique and opportune moment to take further concrete action, he emphasized. "2012 will be about empowering IRENA and its leadership!”
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