Today was the first day of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, an annual gathering of those interested in the future of energy generation, energy efficiency and low carbon technologies. Today saw 3000 delegates hear from Premier Wan Jiabao, Premier of the Peoples Republic of China, HE Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations and HE Kim Hwang-sik, Prime Minister, South Korea.
Ban Ki-Moon took the opportunity to launch a UN initiative, Sustainable Energy for All which aims to do three things by 2030:
- Ensure universal access to modern energy services
- Double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency
- Double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix
The initiative recognises the transformative power of energy – allowing people access to education, greater productivity and economic advancement. He gave a very personal anecdote from his own youth, studying for exams by candlelight in post-war Korea and how the arrival of electricity had transformed his world completely. Hard to imagine that he would have been standing in the arena today had that lightbulb not been switched on. A pause for thought at how many other would-be statesmen and women might be missing out because of a lack of access to energy.
The UN views its role as one of coordination, strengthening partnerships and making a political impact. But there is a major role for national governments to create the policy context in which these aims can be achieved and to use public monies to kick start initiatives. And then of course there is the role for finance to enable a widespread application of projects and technological advancements. Andrew Steer of the World Bank made a compelling case for the above.
And a particular mention I must give to Farooq Abdullah, Minister of New and Renewable Energy in India who highlighted that actions now might seem to have a short term loss, but in reality the long term gain will be felt by generations to come.
A fascinating day. Partly because it was interesting to see the pomp and ceremony of such a high-profile event as this but more-so because the launch of Sustainable Energy for all was a timely reminder of why I and others want to be part of this process.