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UN energy forum calls for more decisive policies and increased investments to achieve radical transition by 2030

The 10th International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development opened today in Bangkok, Thailand. Delegates to the Forum underscored the need for greater collaboration between governments and the private sector, and for inter-regional dialogue if the global energy transition is to be realized.

While global energy targets under Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) and the Paris Agreement provide a blueprint for the global energy transition, navigating the future path can be complex. It requires vast amounts of capital as well as long-term planning and coordination at multiple levels of government. Further, as each country has its own national endowment of natural resources, cultural and legislative heritage, and regulatory infrastructure, each country will define its own pathway to a sustainable energy future.

“We know that this will require a radical transition in many areas. The ways we source and consume energy will have to change. Transformation across sectors is needed – in how buildings, cities and transport systems are designed, and even how our taxation systems are structured. We need decisions on the use of fuels and technologies to account for the full costs of air pollution and climate change. If we are to extend renewable energy-based grids across regions, we need deeper regional cooperation to manage this complex undertaking,” said Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Ms. Armida Alisjahbana.

Mr. Jurgen Keinhorst, Chair of UNECE’s Committee on Sustainable Energy, observed that “We must reduce the environmental footprint of the energy sector and accelerate its transformation if we are to meet the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement. We need appropriate price signals, reduction of harmful subsidies, as well as carbon pricing in the future.”

Ms. Olga Prudnikova, Deputy Minister of Energy of Belarus emphasised the importance of sustainable energy for Belarus. The country is working to increase the share of renewable energy in energy mix, to deploy digital technologies and innovation, and to apply the concept of a “smart grid”.

Mr. Hakob Vardanyan, Deputy Minister of Territorial Management and Infrastructures of Armenia spoke about the importance of regional and cross-border cooperation in the energy sector, as well as the need to increase the share of renewable energy in energy mix in the countries of the region.

Ms. Margalita Arabidze of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia announced that Georgia has offered to host the next International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development in 2020.

The two-day Forum is exploring how to close the gap between targets and action in areas such as access to electricity, renewable energy, clean cooking and energy efficiency. This year’s forum is organized by ESCAP, in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) and the Ministry of Energy of Royal Thai Government. The annual International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development is the only platform that allows for inter-regional exchanges on SDG7 implementation.

This year’s Forum follows on from UNECE’s Committee on Sustainable Energy, held in Geneva on 25-27 September, at which member States emphasized that the 2-degree Celsius commitment requires decarbonization in all economic sectors and of all potent greenhouse gases. This objective implies modernization of the energy sector and rapid mastering of growing atmospheric concentrations of methane. Uncertainties surrounding future energy prices, economic development, climate change impacts, international cooperation, geopolitical tensions, and technology development complicate accelerating the transition by adding economic and social considerations.

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