by Katie Valentine
Climate and energy initiatives were major topics of discussion at UN headquarters in New York last week, with countries pledging new clean energy commitments and calling for increased global cooperation in developing climate change mitigation goals at the UN General Assembly High Level Debate.
Several new commitments and initiatives were announced September 24 during a high Level Sustainable Energy for All event. Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) is a UN program that aims to bring clean energy to people in developing countries without access to modern electricity and cooking services.
According to the UN, nearly one in five of the world’s population doesn’t have access to modern energy sources, and almost 40 percent relies on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste to cook their food. The SE4ALL program operates on three platforms that aim to address this problem of energy inequality: 1) ensuring universal access to modern energy services; 2) doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and 3) doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. The recent announcements build on SE4ALL’s commitments, and include:
- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the creation of an Advisory Board, which will provide strategic guidance in the SE4ALL initiative. Ban will co-chair the board along with the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, and its members will be selected among exceptional leaders from the private sector, civil society and governments.
- Ban announced the Creation of an Executive Committee, which will be chaired by Chad Holliday, Chairman of Bank of America. The Executive Committee will oversee the work of the chief executive of SE4ALL.
- Ban also announced the designation of Dr. Kandeh Yumkella as Special Representative of the Secretary-General and chief executive for SE4ALL. As chief executive, Yumkella will be responsible for planning and implementing SE4ALL initiatives.
- Eskom announced the creation of an electricity roadmap for the Southern African Development Community, with the goal to connect 500 million people to modern energy sources by 2050.
- Accenture announced the release of its report on the value of SE4ALL to global industries.
- Philips announced it will install 100 “light centers” in areas in rural Africa previously without electricity. The soccer field-sized centers are lit by solar-powered LED lights and will be installed by 2015, with the first 40 to be installed late 2012.