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UN Secretary-General Addresses UNGA’s Thematic Dialogue on Energy Efficiency and Conservation

© UN18 June 2009: The UN General Assembly's (UNGA) interactive thematic dialogue on “Energy efficiency, energy conservation and new and renewable sources of energy” took place at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 18 June.

In his address to the dialogue, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for changing the way we use energy in order to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Secretary-General Ban listed what could be achieved by pursuing energy efficiency, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, cutting energy costs for businesses and households, and providing employment opportunities. Noting that energy efficiency improvements exist in all sectors, he stressed the need for strong government policies. Ban added that the pursuit of energy efficiency and the expansion of renewable energy are “not an indulgence for wealthy nations,” but rather tools for promoting clean development. Recognizing that limited finance constitutes an obstacle to expanding the use of renewable and clean power, he called on governments “to do their part,” for example by using the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) more effectively. He also stated that sealing a deal in Copenhagen can give “a massive, even decisive boost” to the green economy. In conclusion, he underscored that energy efficiency and renewable energy provide an opportunity to tackle many challenges at once: climate change, energy insecurity, and poverty alleviation.

The event also included a statement by the President of the General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, who emphasized the importance of keeping the costs involved with developing new and renewable energy sources in mind when setting policies. Hoesung Lee, Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggested that, to trigger a change, governments have to support technology research and development. Mohamed Waheed Hassan, Vice-President of the Maldives, said his country would become the first carbon neutral nation in the world by 2020, with more than a hundred wind turbines, half a square kilometre of photovoltaic solar panels, a biomass plant and back-up battery banks expected to provide the country with an unlimited supply of clean energy.

The day also featured two panel discussions. The first, entitled “Status and prospects: Energy efficiency and new and renewable sources of energy,” addressed promising renewable and energy efficient technologies, constraints that hindered their wider deployment, efforts to deploy leading technologies at a scale that met sustainable development goals, and the potential of such technologies to improve energy access. The second panel, entitled “Meeting the challenge: Investment and policies,” explored the types of policies and investment needed to promote renewable and energy efficiency, particularly during the global financial crisis. [UN Secretary-General's Statement][UN Press Release]