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Development Commission Must Tackle Energy Concerns

Sustainable Development Commission Must Tackle Energy Concerns – UN Official

New York, May 1 2006 6:00PM

A senior United Nations official today called on officials from across the world attending the annual session of the Commission on Sustainable Development to address the needs of the 2.4 billion people who lack modern energy services as well as concerns over energy security exacerbated by high prices.

“The central task before us is to identify constraints and barriers that must be addressed by the international community,” on the highly interlinked issues of energy, air pollution, industrial development and climate change, said José Antonio Ocampo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, in an opening address to the two-week gathering in New York.

Extending national electricity grids and promoting increased trade in energy would address many concerns, Mr. Ocampo said. And renewable energy technologies “can offer ‘win-win’ solutions for making energy service available with minimal air pollution and climate change emissions.” Lowering the cost of renewable energy, he said, should be a priority.

In a measure of the relevance of this year’s agenda, Commission Chair Aleksi Aleksishvili, the Finance Minister of Georgia, sent word that he was unable to attend the opening session due to a national emergency that was caused by rising energy costs. In a message, he said the issues under consideration by the Commission were “unparalleled in their importance for achieving sustainable development goals.”

“The issues are complex and inter-linked,” he said. “Energy use and industrial development are essential for economic growth and social development, but care must be taken to avoid or minimize adverse air pollution and atmospheric, climate change and other environmental effects.”

Mr. Aleksishvili said it was estimated that investments of up to $550 billion a year through 2030 would be needed to improve access to reliable and affordable modern energy services.

South African UN Representative Dumisani S. Kumalo, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said far more must be done to meet internationally-agreed development goals. “The collective political will to address the three pillars of sustainable development had been declared, but that had not been converted into action.”

Close to 80 ministers as well as representatives from 1,250 major organizations will be attending the meeting.

ENDS

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