2012: International Year of Sustainable Energy for All

Last week, the United Nations launched the Sustainable Energy for All initiative at the Dubai World Future Energy Summit.  In an International Herald Tribune op-ed this week, Ban Ki Moon explains the reasoning behind the UN spearheading this revolutionary new project:

“As I see it, we face two urgent energy challenges.  The first is that one in five people on the planet lacks access to electricity. Twice as many, almost 3 billion, use wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste to cook meals and heat homes, exposing themselves and their families to harmful smoke and fumes. This energy poverty is devastating to human development.

The second challenge is climate change. Greenhouse gases emitted from burning fossil fuels contribute directly to the warming of the earth’s atmosphere, with all the attendant consequences: a rising incidence of extreme weather and natural disasters that jeopardize lives, livelihoods and our children’s future.

Sustainable energy for all by 2030 is an enormous challenge. But it is achievable. My vision is for a world with universal energy access coupled with significantly improved rates of energy efficiency and a doubling of renewable energy in our mix of fuel sources. The obstacles are not so much technical as human. We need to raise sustainable energy to the top of the global agenda and focus our attention, ingenuity, resources, and investments to make it a reality.

Consider the precedent of cellular phones. Twenty years ago, universal access to mobile communications seemed preposterous. Yet as governments put proper frameworks in place and the private sector invested resources and pioneered business models, the communications revolution exploded.

A similar paradigm can emerge in sustainable energy. Developing countries can leapfrog conventional options in favor of cleaner energy solutions, just as they leapfrogged land-line based phone technologies in favor of mobile networks. Industrialized countries can and should support this transition to low-emission technologies, not least through their own example.”

At Panels For Progress, our mission is to help realize the goals set forth by the United Nation’s Development Programme by introducing solar energy to communities that lack access to affordable, reliable electricity.

The benefits of achieving universal access to modern energy services are transformational: lighting for schools, functioning health clinics, pumps for water and sanitation, cleaner indoor air, faster food-processing and more income-generating opportunities.  We’re proud to be part of this movement and look forward to contributing to the United Nation’s holistic vision of a sustainable future for all.