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European Commission - Press release

Energy tops the Development agenda: Commissioner Piebalgs to attend the European launch of the UN's Year of Sustainable Energy for All

Brussels, 07 February 2012 - On Wednesday, 8 February, Andris Piebalgs, Commissioner for Development, will stress the European Commission's commitment to achieving sustainable energy for all by 2030 at the official European Launch of UN's Year on Sustainable Energy for All. This ambitious goal was set up by a new High Level Group led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on which Commissioner Piebalgs is a Member. The event will address the types of commitments for action needed from all sectors to provide access to energy for the poorest people on the planet.

Ahead of the event, Commissioner Piebalgs said: "By making 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon set up inspiring goals and I'm determined to foster the EU contribution to these objectives. We are all aware of the fundamental role that energy access plays as a driver for development, in delivering health, education, food security and economic growth, to name but a few. With around €2bn allocated to the energy sector worldwide, the EU is a leader in empowering the world. Through the promotion of our technology and expertise combined with a targeted use of our aid funding, we will aim to increase access to modern energy services for the world's poorest."

As spelled out in "an Agenda for Change", a proposal for new directions in the EU development policy, access to energy will be one of the top priorities of Commissioner Piebalgs. Sustainable energy is central to providing opportunities for inclusive, equitable and environmentally friendly economic growth, creating new job opportunities and contributing to poverty eradication while moving towards low-carbon and resource-efficient energy models.

The Commissioner will also express his support for the three objectives of the initiative to be achieved by 2030:

  • universal access to modern energy services,

  • doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency

  • doubling the share of renewable energy in the global mix of fuel sources.

Energy will also be one of the principal topics taken up at the Rio+20, a conference which will take place in June 2012.

The Event

The event will take place in the European Parliament in Brussels and is open to the press. The Venue: Paul Henri Spaak 5B001.

The Challenge

Worldwide, about 1.4 billion people have no access to electricity. Up to a billion more have access only to unreliable electricity networks. Almost 3 billion people rely on solid fuels (i.e. traditional biomass and coal) for cooking and heating. A well-performing energy system that improves efficient access to modern forms of energy would strengthen the opportunities for the poorest people on the planet to escape the worst impacts of poverty. Access to energy provides people with the means to generate income – and that in turn creates wealth and new markets.

Example of EU actions in energy

EU actions to foster Sustainable Energy in Africa – the EU-Africa Energy Partnership

In 2008, the EU launched an Energy Partnership with Africa to promote the electrification of Africa and to increase energy access, energy security and the development of renewable energy to strengthen energy efficiency. This Partnership has borne fruit, through the launch of the Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP) together with the African Union in 2010. This programme is due to contribute to the African renewable energy targets for 2020. It aims at bringing relevant renewable energy technologies to the market in Africa.

It will provide a valuable input to the work of the newly created UN High Level group on Sustainable Energy for All.

Access to sustainable energy in developing countries is also a key element of the recent Commission Communication on the security of energy supply and international cooperation (COM2011(539) of 7 September 2011)

The programme of the Conference includes:

8:00 am – 9:00 am: Keynote addresses by Andris Piebalgs and Kandeh Yumkella, UNIDO Director-General, Chair of UN-Energy and co-Chair of the Secretary-General’s High-level Group on Sustainable Energy for All.

9:00 am – 11:00 am: Panel discussions on the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative, the role of the European Union in promoting sustainable energy, and the importance of both corporations and civil society in achieving the goal of the Initiative’s.

Other participants will include senior representatives from the United Nations, the European Union, the European Parliament as well as civil society, and the private sector.

For more info

For more information on Sustainable Energy for All:

Website of the EU-Africa Energy Partnership

IP/10/1122 and MEMO/10/407 - Energy in Africa: Commissioners Piebalgs and Oettinger launch the Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme

Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:

Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs:

Contacts :

Catherine Ray (+32 2 296 99 21)

Wojtek Talko (+32 2 297 85 51)

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