As an American, I’m always a little doubtful about how much good the United Nations can actually accomplish – especially when it comes to radically changing the face of worldwide energy production. Nonetheless, Ban Ki Moon gave a motivated and well-thought-out talk this morning at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. Even if it was mostly talk, it was a good talk and the room, which included heads of state from China, Korea, and the UAE seemed to be paying attention.
The main gist – the launching of the “International Year of Sustainable Energy For All“. The UN Secretary General plainly stated he found it “unacceptable” that over 3 billion people globally are still cooking with charcoal, wood and animal waste (among other things) and set out his goal to address three specific objectives by 2030:
1) Achieve universal access to modern energy services – specifically reliable clean energy for lighting and cooking to combat what is known as “energy poverty.”
2) Doubling the “rate of improvement” to efficiency – a somewhat vague term which implies accelerating innovation on many things from energy production to storage and use.
3) Doubling the share of renewable energy in the global mix – although the specific types of renewable energy were not mentioned.
Stealing the show, however, was Bertrand Piccard, creator of the Solar Impulse project who was among the few non-politicians on the stage. Piccard is famous for creating a solar powered airplane which recently broke records by staying aloft for more than 26 hours – including a full cycle of nighttime flying.
Piccard expressed dismay at the progress that companies and nations have made on implementing clean energy – mainly for fear of a higher “price.” However, Piccard explained that although the price of clean energy may currently be higher than that of dirtier fuel, the cost is in fact much cheaper.
He ended his brief talk by specifically refraining from showing flattery on the exalted leaders in the room and coolly asking of politicians everywhere “Please? and Good Luck…”
* Ed Note: 3p’s travel to Abu Dhabi was covered by Masdar