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Committee on Sustainable Energy endorses set of options to implement the SDGs

How to deliver on the national commitments on energy in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement? This is the key question that will be at the center of debates at the Ministerial meeting on energy to take place on 11 June 2017 at the outset of the Eighth International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development in Astana, Kazakhstan.  

In order to set the scene for the ministerial debate, the Committee on Sustainable Energy endorsed on 19 January a set of commitments on energy. The key takeaways from the draft ministerial document are that a systems perspective is needed in energy policy, and that the business model for energy must change from that of a commodity business to that of a service industry. The UNECE position is that successful implementation of the commitments in the ministerial outcome document will lead to:

  • Major improvements in energy productivity,
  • Enhanced performance of buildings and cities to permit renewables or zero carbon sources to meet their energy requirements
  • Reduced carbon intensity in transport,
  • Virtual elimination of methane emissions from the extractive industries, and
  • Reduction of the overall net carbon intensity of the energy system.

Four UNECE member States took the opportunity of the Committee session to showcase their action on producing, trading, transforming and consuming energy. The exhibition, on display at the Palais des Nations for the past two weeks, featured the transition from past practices to modern reliable and sustainable energy in Azerbaijan, Germany, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

As noted by UNECE Executive Secretary Christian Friis-Bach, “achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development depends on transforming the energy system. There is an imperative for profound and immediate changes in how energy is produced, traded, transformed, and consumed as the energy sector accounts for 60% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.”

“The Energiewende is the German equivalent of the project to get the first man on the moon”, said Dr. Uwe Petry, Head of the Economic Affairs Division, Permanent Representation of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Nations Office and the International Organizations in Geneva, at the opening of the exhibition.

“The German Energy Transition (Energiewende) is our way for a secure, sustainable and affordable energy for the 21st century”, Dr. Petry continued. He was supported by Mr. Lionel Zetter, Director of The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS): “Energy is the lifeblood of every economy. It is also a vital sector for Azerbaijan, which is a substantial exporter of both oil and gas. However, Azerbaijan is also looking to the future. It is working hard to diversify its economy, and it is investing substantial resources into alternative and renewable energy. The pictures represent the country’s energy infrastructure, from oil and gas to renewable technologies for wind and solar power, and they evocatively illustrate the country’s landscapes and culture.