Daily report for 20 May 2015

2nd Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Forum

On the third day of the SE4All Forum, delegates convened in the first-ever Global Energy Ministerial Dialogue, taking place from 20-21 May at the UN General Assembly Hall, UN Headquarters in New York. The main objective of the policy dialogue is to reaffirm the Rio+20 determination “to act to make sustainable energy for all a reality.”

Following the opening plenary in the morning, delegates convened in a high-level panel on ‘Catalyzing a Trillion Dollar Investment.’ Three high-level panels then followed to discuss how to accelerate the three SE4All 2030 goals of ensuring universal energy access, doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. In the afternoon, following a dialogue on energy, women and children’s health, two high-level panels took place under the overall theme of ‘Strengthening Global Energy Cooperation on Energy.’  

Side events held during the day included a high-level leadership luncheon hosted by the European Commission and a high-level event on financing sustainable energy for least developed countries convened by the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).


Kaha Imnadze, acting president of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), on behalf of Sam Kahamba Kutesa, President of the UNGA, emphasized the interlinkages between sustainable energy and sustainable development, noting that, while technological advances have resulted in increased access, formidable challenges remain. He stressed the need for: doubling annual investments to over US$800 billion; policy and institutional frameworks; further advances in clean energy technologies; and international cooperation to help developing countries address their technological, financial and capacity-building challenges, adding that the lack of finance should be addressed under the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary-General, highlighted the need to balance socio-economic and environmental imperatives and to bring transformative change across sectors and societies. He said that three upcoming meetings will “chart our course” this year: the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa; the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda in New York; and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP 21 in Paris. Eliasson urged participants to make bold commitments and forge partnerships to pursue sustainable energy for all.

Special Representative’s Address: Kandeh Yumkella, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Chief Executive, SE4ALL, lauded all SE4All partners for achieving “what could not be done for 20 years,” with the formulation of a standalone energy SDG; capacity development tools, such as the investment prospectus that helps countries create enabling environments; and the Global Tracking Framework to measure progress on achieving the goals. He stressed that Africa is not just a source of raw materials, but must be the “next frontier for energy,” noting that “without energy countries become failed states unable to handle crises such as ebola.”

Leadership Remarks: Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, said that the developed world often takes for granted energy that enables their economies to succeed.  In many developing countries, he said, too much time is spent each day gathering fuel. He urged reaching the SE4All objectives by 2030, and said that the EU is leading the way on finance and technology, highlighting the ElectriFI initative to unlock private funding for electrification.

Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for Coal, Power and New and Renewable Energy, India, stressed that eradicating poverty requires universal energy access. He emphasized that coal will play a role in the foreseeable future in India to quickly provide electricity to those in the “pain of poverty,” but that outdated coal plants would be replaced. He highlighted plans for a five-fold increase in renewables over the next seven years, yielding a 15% share of the energy mix, and invited participants to take advantage of this “extraordinary” investment opportunity.


Moderator Ali Velshi, Al Jazeera America, invited panelists to address shortages in infrastructure and finance, and identify ways to reach the SE4All goals. He was assisted by Mohinder Gulati, Chief Operating Officer (COO), SE4All, who observed that energy prices can be brought down if access to technology and economies of scale are achieved. Anita Marangoly George, World Bank, highlighted three measurement tools used by the Bank: Readiness for Investment in Sustainable Energy (RISE); the Global Tracking Framework 2015. She called for bankable projects and consistent policies towards creditworthy utilities. Lutaf Kassam, Director, Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, outlined the Fund’s rural electrification efforts and regional projects that rely on blended finance. Roberto Ridolfi, European Commission, emphasized infrastructure, policy environment and access to energy as the Commission’s three blocks of action. Roberto Zurli Machado, Brazilian Development Bank, identified the need to support stable and sound regulatory frameworks, reliable long-term offtake agreements, sound project preparation and long-term low-cost financing. Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for Coal, Power and New and Renewable Energy, India, called for “concessional, untied and unhedged” finance for developing countries, as well as local capacity building.

Gulati concluded the session by urging participants to address “the moral dilemma of development and the existential dilemma of climate change” by forging partnerships and new business models.


Matthew Bishop, The Economist, moderated three successive panels exploring each of the SE4All objectives.

Ensuring Universal Energy Access: In his opening remarks, Suleiman Al-Herbish, Director-General, OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), highlighted the Fund’s commitment to devote a minimum of US$1 billion to financing the Energy for the Poor initiative, and discussed its ongoing, demand-driven approach. Moderator Bishop then asked panelists to detail their priority actions and provide advice on how to achieve the energy access goal by 2030. 

Alex Rugamba, Director for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, African Development Bank (AfDB), stressed the importance of good planning at the country level, combined with a regional approach to large infrastructure development and interconnections. Alfredo Pires, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Timor-Leste, said multi-stakeholder action can help to accelerate progress.  Omar Kittaneh, Minister of the Palestine Energy Authority, urged reaching the most remote and impoverished areas first, recalling the passion of the UN Secretary-General for universal access. Robert Ichord, Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Energy Resources, US State Department, underscored the need to distinguish between the technical requirements of rural and urban areas, noting particular applicability of micro-grids to rural areas. Isabella Lövin, Minister for International Development Cooperation, Sweden, concurred that seemingly small interventions, such as clean cookstoves, greatly impact households. She underscored the need to live up to commitments of shared responsibility to address climate change with increased and additional financing by donor countries, to achieve a positive outcome in Paris and a clean energy transformation.

Doubling the Global Rate of Improvement in Energy Efficiency: Martin Bille Hermann, State Secretary for Development Policy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Denmark, pointed out that efficient energy use would facilitate access and help reduce carbon emissions, stressing the need for conducive regulatory frameworks and incentives. Masahiko Horie, Ambassador for Global Environmental Affairs, Japan, noted that if all countries reached the same level of energy efficiency, 55% in energy consumption could be saved. Among initiatives in Japan he outlined the use of energy efficiency consultants by small- and medium-sized enterprises, the top-runner programme to incentivize energy efficiency in businesses, and smart city nominations. Ajay Mathur, Director-General, Bureau of Energy Efficiency, India, outlined an energy efficiency initiative for businesses involving penalties and incentives, noting that this approach had been particularly successful in the cement and fertilizer industries. Hans Brattskar, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway, noted his country’s efforts in addressing fossil fuel subsidies by engaging with countries through development assistance funding, as well as the Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 initiative. Alexei Teksler, Deputy Minister of Energy, Russian Federation, stated his country’s goal of a 40% GDP increase at current energy use levels, noting an initiative to improve technologies by implementing the best available technology (BAT) principle.

Doubling the Share of Renewable Energy in the Global Energy Mix: Zhang Yuqing, Vice Administrator, National Energy Administration, China, noted that renewables account for 32% of China’s total power generation and that Chinese hydro and wind power capacity is the largest the world, attributing the progress to policy and regulation. Adnan Amin, Director-General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), observed that renewable energy is no longer a niche market and the business case for renewables is now compelling. Among challenges to scaling up the sector, he highlighted the limited number of qualified workers and current absence of storage solutions. Tania Rödiger-Vorwerk, Deputy Director-General, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, discussed her country’s goal for 80% renewable electricity by 2050, adding that sharing experiences internationally will be helpful in fulfilling global goals. Emilio Rappaccioli, Minister Advisor to the President for Renewable Energy, Nicaragua, noted his country’s progress in doubling renewable energy capacity since 2006, stressing the importance of policy coherence across different sectors to protect those vulnerable to climate change while increasing energy access.

Albert Geber de Melo, Director-General, Eletrobas, Brazil, discussed innovative market-based energy policies in Brazil that ensure long-term cash flows for renewable energy. Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iceland, stated that Iceland’s electricity sector fully relies on renewables, highlighting the need for funding and knowledge sharing to further develop cost-effective geothermal energy capacities globally. He noted the important role of IRENA’s Global Geothermal Alliance Initiative to be launched at the Paris Climate Conference 2015. Valentin Rybakov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Belarus, stated the importance of renewable energy for his country, noting a recently signed Presidential decree to guarantee investments in the sector. Gil-Hong Kim, Senior Director, Asian Development Bank (ADB), discussed key elements needed to scale up investments in renewables, including, inter alia: policy frameworks; long-term investment planning; technology transfer and capacity development to enable local entrepreneurship; and innovative market mechanisms.


The session, moderated by Laura Trevelyan, BBC, opened with the global launch of the ‘Clean Energy is Life’ campaign video, which depicts a woman coughing while cooking over firewood in a smoke-filled hut. Alex Evans, Chairman, Operating Committee, the Global LPG Partnership, expressed hope that the video would start a movement to make LPG fuels accessible at walking distance, even in remote villages. Radha Muthiah, CEO, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, emphasized that the video represents daily reality for 500 million households. She stressed that women cannot take advantage of education and other opportunities if they spend up to eight hours a day collecting firewood, noting the problem could be addressed within 10-15 years. Sheila Oparaocha, Executive Secretary, International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy, concurred that energy is an enabler for women’s economic empowerment. Irene Muloni, Minister for Energy and Minerals, Uganda, described Uganda’s strong commitment to provide electricity to health centers in rural Uganda to address the health risks posed by lack of electricity for surgery and refrigeration for drugs and vaccines. She further highlighted efforts to promote clean cookstoves and disseminate easily used, alternative fuels. Nawal Al-Hosany, Director of Sustainability, Masdar, described her company’s work in Afghanistan, Tonga, and other nations generating 1.5 GW of renewable energy. Sally Gear, UK, noted  that women and girls are at the heart of the UK’s international agenda, expressing hope that new SDG indicators would be disaggregated by gender. Maurizio Vecchione,  Intellectual Ventures, highlighted severe mortality rates for women and children from cooking smoke and in hospitals, because, for example, oxygenators cannot run on intermittent power. 


From SDGs to COP21 and Beyond: Moderator Irene Giner-Reichl, President of the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy, opened the session, observing that, with the adoption of SDGs in September 2015, energy challenges will remain. John Podesta, former Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton and Counselor to President Barack Obama, US, emphasized that sustainable development and climate change are deeply integrated. Stressing the need for multilateral as well as national work on the two issues, he highlighted the “tremendous market power” of the US-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change. Responding to Giner-Reichl’s question on the affordability of renewable energy technologies and finance, Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility (GEF), pointed out that the cost of new technologies has been declining. She highlighted the challenge of catalyzing the private sector to bring transformational change, stressing the need to join the global community to better implement SDGs. Providing his country’s perspective, Darcy Boyce, Minister of Energy, Immigration, Telecommunications and Invest Barbados, identified the issue of “affordability of access,” seeing room for regional cooperation. He said that, as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), by using clean energy to address climate change, Barbados could set an example for those who generated it. John Kioli, Chairman, Kenya Climate Change Working Group, highlighted some climate change impacts, including on coffee production and tourism.

Strengthening Global Energy Governance and Partnerships − Roles of the UN: Moderator Kandeh Yumkella asked the panel how the UN could create a more effective global dialogue on energy issues. Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), stated that the UN provides a neutral platform where countries, companies and civil society can come together to become more than the sum of their parts. Christoph Frei, Secretary General, World Energy Council, said that international cooperation should reflect the energy “trilemma” framework to find a balance between the issues of equity, environment and security. He also underscored the importance of regional integration to implement effective policies. Fernando Ferreira, Executive Secretary, Latin American Energy Organization, highlighted the progress made in energy access in Latin America and the Caribbean since the 1990s, highlighting the contribution of regionally aligned policies in this transition. He added that there was willingness to increase the share of renewables, but stated that transitioning to 100% renewables was unrealistic for many states in the region due to economic dependency on oil. Noting that all SDGs depend on energy, Yumkella then posed a “provocative” question to delegates, asking if the links between energy and the SDGs means that there is a need to create a UN Energy Agency. The ensuing discussion reflected different perspectives, with panelists and delegates noting that the UN could play an important role in aligning policies but that SE4All was already providing a strong global framework that could be further strengthened.

Closing the session, Yumkella noted that the day’s deliberations revealed that the energy revolution has started. He welcomed the ongoing dialogue between young changemakers and ministers at the meeting, saying it turns the spotlight on the critical role of new generations in the transition to sustainable energy.

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