UN Wants ‘Sustainable Energy For All’

You can’t accuse Ban Ki-moon of not aiming high. The United Nations secretary general launched the Sustainable Energy for All initiative by saying that he hoped it would “revitalize the global economy, help combat climate change, and go a long way towards ensuring equal opportunity for all.”

This new UN program was unveiled at the UN Private Sector Forum 2011. The UN said it aims to leverage business, government and civil society from across the world to achieve universal access to modern energy services, doubling both the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030.

Sustainable Energy for All initiative, United Nations

image via United Nations

The United Nations estimates that some 1.4 billion people worldwide on’t have access to electricity, and another billion suffer with unreliable electrical power. As a result, about 3 billion people rely on inefficient and often unsafe solid fuels such as coal or traditional biomass for their basic cooking and heating.

And then there’s the climate change factor. “We need to provide access to energy for all,” Ban said, “but we also need to minimize the risks of dangerous climate change by ensuring that universal energy is clean and sustainable. In short, we need a clean energy revolution – now.”

With Sustainable Energy for All, countries will be asked to provide “significant new commitments and establish public-private partnerships to spur private investment towards the key targets,” the United Nations said.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.