Willingness to tackle critical issue of scale needed to address energy needs of the poorest - Mary Robinson
Willingness to tackle critical issue of scale needed to address energy needs of the poorest – Mary Robinson
Mary Robinson was among the panellists who took part in discussions on access to energy at the third Vienna Energy Forum (VEF 2013), where she spoke about the need to “scale up” in order to meet the energy demands of the world’s poorest people.
Referring to the need for the post 2015 development framework to address the issue of scale in terms of energy access, Mrs Robinson expressed the belief of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, that social protection systems can deliver access to sustainable energy on a greater scale than previously envisaged.
“Our approach, a climate justice approach, is informed by the belief that all have a right to development,” Mrs Robinson told delegates during the panel session on Energy Access, which took place on day two of VEF 2013. “Our challenge is to bridge the vast gulf in resources between rich and poor, both within and between countries, in a climate-constrained world.
“The issue of access to energy brings that challenge into sharp focus and the reality is that we are failing in our efforts to deliver energy to the very poorest. Market-based solutions alone will not enable us to achieve our objective of universal access to modern energy services.”
It is estimated that approximately 1.3 billion people worldwide have no access to electricity, while 2.7 billion people continue to rely on solid fuels such as traditional biomass and coal for cooking and heating – this number is expected to rise to 2.8 billion in 2030.
“We are all familiar with the satellite image of the African continent in darkness. It serves as a stark reminder of the realities of poverty and of our collective failure to ensure fairness in the distribution of resources, technologies and knowledge,” Mrs Robinson added. “Yet, we know that addressing the energy needs of the poorest and most vulnerable is not beyond our collective capabilities.
“It will require increased investment in low-carbon technologies in addition to the reallocation of existing financial resources. It will require education on the value of access to affordable forms of sustainable energy and the consequent benefits in the areas of health, education and the empowerment of women. Above all, it requires a sense of urgency and a willingness, at the political level, to tackle the critical issue of scale. “
VEF 2013 took place 28-30 May, just ahead of the report from the High Level Panel on the Post 2015 Development Agenda being submitted to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. This year’s Forum focussed on the energy dimension of ‘The Future We Want,’ the outcome document of 2012’s Rio+20, the UN conference on sustainable development.
Among the panellists who joined Mrs Robinson during the discussion session on Energy Access were Vijay Modi, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Columbia University (moderator); Jan Dictus, GOJA Consulting for Environment and Sustainable Development; Wolfgang Engshuber, Chairman, Principles for Responsible Investment; Michael Kelly, Deputy Managing Director, World LP Gas Association; Richenda Van Leeuwen, Director, Energy Access Initiative, United Nations Foundation; Pradeep Monga, Director, Energy and Climate Change, UN Industrial Development Organisation; and Lucius Mayer-Tasch, Energy Advisor, GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit).
Vienna Energy Forum – Official Website