Hoppa yfir valmynd
Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Air Pollution/atmosphere and climate change

The Permanent Mission of Iceland to the United Nations

Statement by Ambassador Gunnar Pálsson

Director, Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs

Ministry for Foreign Affairs

at the

 Fourteenth Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development

 

Energy for Sustainable Development, Industrial Development

Air Pollution/atmosphere and climate change

 

New York, 1 May 2006

  

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The Permanent Mission of Iceland to the United Nations

800 Third Ave. 36th fl.  -   Tel 212-593-2700.    -   Fax 212-593-6269

 

 

From the time world leaders recognized energy as a critical element in efforts to achieve sustainable development in Johannesburg four years ago, the role of energy has steadily grown more prominent.

 

Energy services are a pivotal part of our economic wellbeing and security in the industrialized world. Providing energy access in developing countries is seen as key to alleviating poverty.  At the same time, we are learning more and more of the complex relationship between the use of energy resources and changes in the global climate.  As we meet for this 14th session of the CSD, it is the confluence of all these factors that defines the magnitude of the task before us.

 

In a sense, the world finds itself at crossroads. Global energy demand is expected to rise by some 60% by 2030, the lion´s share of that increase coming from the developing world. Such an increase, if based on past energy structures, could come at a considerable cost in terms of global warming, air quality and public health. The challenge that all our countries face is to kill two birds with one stone; to find a way to safeguard the world´s ecosystem, while at the same time raising the level of human wellbeing and fostering economic growth.

 

For some, the two goals might seem hardly reconcilable, especially given the patterns of consumption in the industrialized world.  But we should not have to make a choice between higher living standards and a clean environment. Much can be done to eliminate the worst excesses of the carbon based economy; improving energy efficiency and promoting research and development in carbon capture and geological storage.

 

Globally, we will in all likelihood have to live with the carbon-based economy for some time to come. But over the long term we will also have to reduce our dependency on fossil energy and substantially expand the share of renewables in world energy demand. This could prove the most effective way of advancing the transition to a global energy system for sustainable development.

 

Renewable energy, already the third electricity generation source worldwide (after coal and gas), offers various economic, environmental, security and reliability benefits as compared with fossil fuels. As was recognized at the Bonn conference in 2004, renewable energy will create new opportunities for cooperation among all countries. The conference estimated that up to 1 billion people could be given access to energy services from renewable sources.

 

The basic technologies that would enable us to attain that goal are already at hand. What is needed is an enabling policy framework and leadership. We should stimulate the competitiveness of  renewable energy supplies in the market-place, eliminate bias and establish a level playing field. This would include factoring in the costs and benefits to the ecosystem as a whole of the different resource options, as suggested in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.  IFIs should be encouraged to raise the profile of renewables in their lending strategies and we should strive for better coordination on renewables among the various bodies within the United Nations system.

 

Iceland has a long-standing commitment to international cooperation on the sustainable use of energy. The Geothermal Department of the United Nations University, hosted by Iceland, has for many years been a valuable tool for the sharing of technological expertise and experiences with developing countries. We are also taking an active part in the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy, led by the United States, and hope that the advantages of hydrogen technology may one day enable energy poor developing countries make flexible use of their localized renewable resources.

 

In confirmation of that commitment, allow me to draw to your attention that Iceland is sponsoring a side event on geothermal technology during the lunch break of May 4, as well as  a Hydrogen Learning Center, in cooperation with DESA, in the afternoon of May 8, that you are all welcome to attend.



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