Energy for a sustainable future - Summary report and recommendations

Apr 2010

At the global level, the energy system – supply, transformation, delivery and use – is the dominant contributor to climate change, representing around 60 per cent of total current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Current patterns of energy production and consumption are unsustainable and threaten the environment on both local and global scales. Emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels are major contributors to the unpredictable effects of climate change, and to urban air pollution and acidification of land and water. As long as the primary energy mix is biased towards fossil fuels, this would be difficult to achieve with currently available fossil fuel-based energy technologies. Given that the world economy is expected to double in size over the next twenty years, the world’s consumption of energy will also increase significantly if energy supply, conversion and use continue to be inefficient. To date an estimated 2.5 to 3 billion people rely on biomass and transitional fuels, such as coal and kerosene for cooking and heating. Energy system design, providing stronger incentives for reduced GHG emissions in supply and increased end-use efficiency, will therefore be critical for reducing the risk of irreversible, catastrophic climate change.
It is within this context that the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change (AGECC) was convened to address the dual challenges of meeting the world’s energy needs for development while contributing to a reduction in GHGs. AGECC carried out this task in a rapidly changing environment in which energy was often a key factor: the sensitivity of the global economy to energy price spikes; increased competition for scarce natural resources; and the need to accelerate progress towards achievement of the MDGs. The world’s response to climate change will affect each of these issues. Pursuant to the Copenhagen Accord promulgated at the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties in December 2009, the Secretary-General has established a High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing. It is hoped that this report will be helpful to that and other similar initiatives.
The central message of this report is that the international community must come together in a common effort to transform the global energy system over the coming decades, and that policy-makers and business leaders must place much greater emphasis on transforming the performance of national (and regional) energy systems over the coming decades. Low-, middleand high-income countries all face major, albeit different, transformational challenges.

By: The Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change (AGECC)

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