It's the Environment, Stupid.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Pre-cursor to the G8

UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, spoke at an event in Berlin, Germany Monday (nice that they were in the same city as the World Cup finals on Sunday.) Annan's speech was focused on the upcoming G8 meeting, the Millennium Development Goals, trade and energy.

However, Annan makes a few statements that are a bit misleading. He asserts that it is the energy supply that needs to be more secure. This is true, but it is also the infrastructure that needs to be maintained and adequately funded.

He mentions that we must take responsibility for environmental effects of energy supply - meaning specifically the global reliance on fossil fuels, and the associated effects of climate change. While no alternative is mentioned in his speech, I'm guessing he's not going to disagree with the intent to make nuclear king in the future as I'm sure it will be touted next week as THE 'clean' and 'environmentally responsible' energy of tomorrow.

Below are the points in his speech I made reference to above:
First, it's essential to think what energy security means to people living in developing countries. More than billion and a half of them live with no electricity at all, while many of those who do have access have to endure frequent power outages, caused by inadequate generating capacity and faulty grid lines.

Without more reliable energy supplies, these people are condemned to perpetual poverty. Studies show that, to reach the Millennium Development Goals, developing countries will need to nearly double their electrical generating capacity.

Second, we cannot achieve energy security unless we address the environmental consequences of energy consumption -- especially our currently overwhelming and deeply entrenched reliance on fossil fuels. By producing greenhouse gases and other pollutants, these fuels affect the sustainability of life itself. Our reliance on them puts the very future of humanity at risk.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The scientific consensus is overwhelmingly clear: climate change is happening, and humans are contributing to it. And while almost all of us will suffer, poor people above all are vulnerable and will bear the brunt of the damage -- especially in rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events. For those living in the low-lying areas of the developing world, energy security is inseparably linked to the environmental consequences of energy consumption.

Of course, these two aspects are intertwined. The need to increase energy supplies in order to fight poverty could entail a vicious circle, with ever more severe effects on health and the environment.

But that does not need to happen. Fossil fuels can become cleaner, or even clean. Energy efficiency can improve significantly, in transport, buildings, appliances and manufacturing. Renewable sources of energy can be utilized to much greater effect. And all this would have significant economic, health and environmental benefits.

Check out the whole speech here. Via WBCSD.


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