15 May 2006

Sustainable Development Commission Concludes Two-Week Discussion on Energy, Industrial Development, Air Pollution, Climate Change

Chair's Text Describes Broad Agreement on Need to Shape Long-Term, Global Energy Strategy, Sets Stage for 2007 Policy-Setting Session

NEW YORK, 12 May (UN Headquarters) -- A comprehensive and broad-based discussion spanning two weeks on energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air and atmospheric pollution, and climate change concluded this evening, with the Commission on Sustainable Development laying the groundwork for its policy-setting session next year.

The fourteenth session also wrapped up its high-level segment today, which began on Wednesday with the Secretary-General's call for greater imagination to bring the poor into the modern energy and industrial economy, while moving energy use and economic activity onto a cleaner path and safeguarding the planet for future generations.  He also called for a revolution in energy efficiency and for new efforts to scale up investment in renewable energy, and he urged countries to fulfil their commitments to climate agreements and to integrate climate change mitigation and adaptation measures into national development strategies.

Before the 53-member body today was the Chairman's summary of the session, which was aimed at facilitating the policy debate on energy next year.  Broad recognition had emerged that all stakeholders -- global organizations, donors, lenders, Governments, the private sector and other major groups -- should participate in shaping a common, shared and feasible long-term global energy strategy in support of sustainable development.  Such a strategy should fulfil the present and future energy needs of developed and developing countries on the basis of affordability, reliability and accessibility, ensure energy security together with safety, human health and environmental protection, and establish a global, fair and firm commitment from all countries to tackle climate change effectively.

Before opening the floor for delegations' comments on the text, the Vice-Chairman, Azanaw T. Abreha ( Ethiopia), explained that, while the comments would be taken into account, the document was not being negotiated; that process would take place next year.  He reminded them that there was a precedent in the Commission's twelfth session for dealing with issues of concern in the Chairman's summary.

On behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, South Africa's representative said that the continuing challenges for developing countries in meeting the Millennium Development Goals and the call for developed country partners to honour their commitments to achieve the Goals had hardly been mentioned in the Chairman's summary.  The multiple emphases in the text on privatization were but one indication of the "wholesale misrepresentation" of the continuing challenges for the developing world and of the erosion of the "CSD 11" decisions.  Where were the sustainable development goals to eradicate poverty, when privatization led to more poverty? she asked.  As important as business was, it was driven by profits and not for the common good and a better world for all.  The first and second part of the Chairman's summary had the potential of undermining multilateralism in favour of unbridled corporatism and privatization.

China's representative endorsed the statement made on the Group's behalf, but stressed the absolute need for a long-term energy strategy -- one that was diversified and country-specific.

Strongly endorsing China's statement, as well as that of the Group's, India's speaker worried that the references to technology transfers in the Chairman's summary were "anaemic" and "half-hearted", "almost an after thought", requiring a much greater emphasis throughout the document.  In addition, he was concerned about the absence of any reference for countries to address climate change in line with differentiated responsibilities and capabilities.

Speaking for the European Union, Austria's representative felt, however, that the paper was a very good reflection of the deliberations and a very good basis for the work in the upcoming period, as well as for "CSD 15".  She then proceeded to make five factual comments on the part entitled "Responding to challenges:  the way forward".

Brazil's representative said the paper had not sufficiently identified the full dimension of biocombustibles.  It was very important to include biofuels in the agenda.  He also sought greater inclusion of the need for enhanced cooperation among agencies, owing to the existing excessive fragmentation.  There was not a single organization within the United Nations dedicated solely to energy issues.

Kuwait's representative, on the other hand, said it was premature to consider the creation of new bodies or agencies to deal with sustainable development issues.  The problem was that those were not being thoroughly discussed in the Commission, he said.

Also today, the Commission heard from representatives of major groups -- children and youth; business and industry; farmers; indigenous people; local authorities; non-governmental organizations; scientific and technological communities; workers and trade unions; and women -- on their role in and contributions to the implementation of the goals and targets on the four thematic areas.

The Commission also adopted the draft report of its current session (document E/CN.17/2006/L.2), as introduced by its Vice-Chairman and Rapporteur, Yvo de Boer of the Netherlands, with a view to its submission to the forthcoming substantive session of the Economic and Social Council.  It also adopted the provisional agenda for the fifteenth session, as contained in document E/CN.17/2006/L.1.

In addition, it elected the Chairman and members of the bureau for the fifteenth session.  Elected as Vice-Chairpersons were Alain Edouard Traore, Permanent Secretary of the National Council for Environment and Sustainable Development of Burkina Faso; Jiři Hlavaček from the Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic; and Frances Lisson (Australia).

Following his election as Chairman of the fifteenth session, Abdullah Hamad Al-Attiyah, Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Industry of Qatar, said the next session would be a policy session that would take decisions to expedite progress on the thematic issues of energy, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere and climate change.  The tasks ahead were of vital importance to improving access to modern energy services, poverty eradication, enhancing global energy supply, combating climate change, reducing air pollution and promoting industrial development.  He urged everyone to work together to overcome barriers and constraints, and build on lessons learned and best practices towards tangible results for a sustainable future.

Statements in the continuation of the high-level segment begun on Wednesday were made this morning by the ministers and representatives of Estonia, Singapore, Switzerland, Italy, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, Portugal, Philippines, Cape Verde, Cuba, Solomon Islands, Bhutan, Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Mozambique, Brazil, Iran, Canada, Sierra Leone, Spain, Burundi, Zambia, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), Saint Lucia, Libya, Tonga, Nepal, Guyana (on behalf of the Rio Group), Ghana, Senegal and El Salvador.  The observer of the Holy See also spoke.


The fourteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development met this morning to continue its high-level segment.  It was expected to conclude its two-week session this evening.

Statements in High-Level Debate

ANNIKA VELTHUT, Secretary General, Ministry of the Environment of Estonia, said that substantial economic growth and environmentally sustainable development could be achieved if relevant economic and fiscal measures were applied.  It was essential to design and implement incentives, with a view to promoting efficient, transparent and competitive markets for energy, while reducing energy-related environmental and health problems, particularly those related to climate change and air pollution.  The various energy-related challenges were unevenly distributed among countries.  The Estonian economy was highly dependent on fossil fuels.  Approximately 90 per cent of its energy was produced through the combustion of fossil fuels.  The remaining 10 per cent came from renewables, such as biomass, hydropower and wind.  The main domestic energy source was the combustion of oil shale, which put much pressure on the environment; approximately 70 per cent of atmospheric pollution, 80 per cent of effluents, and 80 per cent of the generation of solid waste were connected with the oil shale power industry.

She said her country had successfully decoupled its economic development from environmental pollution, having taken different energy-related measures.  Those had also substantially decreased emission of greenhouse gases.  Among the most efficient measures was the application of new technologies, such as the renovation of oil shale power plants and installation of new circulating fluidized bed-combustion technology.  That higher combustion efficiency had allowed for the reduction of fuel consumption of up to 25 per cent, which, in turn, meant substantially lower carbon dioxide emissions.  Promotion of renewable energy sources and increased energy efficiency, together with the demand side measures, were other promising steps.  The potential of Estonian renewable energy was primarily in the wind power and combined heat and power production based on biofuels.  The planned increased use of combined heat and power production in electricity was up to 20 per cent by 2020.  Estonia had also started to introduce ecological tax reform, which was directed towards fairer pricing of the use of natural resources and pollution, while not increasing the total tax burden.

HAZRI HASSAN, Deputy Director for International Relations, Environment Ministry of Singapore, said that, like many developing countries, in the 1960s and 1970s, his Government prioritized rapid industrial development.  Singapore's survival depended on having a robust economy that could generate jobs for the growing population.  However, the environment and public health were not ignored.  For a small island developing country like his, with limited natural resources, environmental considerations such as air quality and public health had a tangible effect on its appeal as a city for business and industry.  Singapore had moved away from the more carbon-intensive fuel oil to the less carbon-intensive and more efficient natural gas for power generation.  The proportion of natural gas in its fuel mix had grown from 19 per cent in 2000 to more than 70 per cent last year.

In the management of air pollution, he said Singapore had, on the whole, enjoyed good air quality, despite the occasional regional haze.  Prevention, monitoring, enforcement and education encapsulated Singapore's strategy in the management of air pollution.  But while that strategy had served the country well so far, Singapore was now faced with two major challenges which must be overcome before it could continue to enjoy the clean air to which it had grown accustomed.  They were:  vulnerability to transboundary pollution; and particulate matter 2.5, which studies had shown to be linked to respiratory and cardiovascular problems.  The main strategies to address particulate matter 2.5 lay in cleaner fuels and setting more stringent emission standards.

SERGE CHAPPATTE ( Switzerland) said that, though there was no Millennium Development Goal on energy itself, energy was a prerequisite for all the Goals.  Urgent action was required in areas where progress could be made towards the achievement of several Goals at once.  That was the case, for example, with regard to indoor air pollution.  Improved stoves and modern cooking fuels would make it possible to tackle health, gender, income generation and biodegradation problems with one stroke.

Technology transfer and investment flows provided a more sustainable foundation for the energy infrastructures of developing countries, he noted.  In that regard, the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, especially with its recent amendments, provided a unique channel for technology and financial transfers.  Also, the share of energy-related funds in official development assistance (ODA) should be increased.  He strongly welcomed the World Bank's current reflections on an investment framework for clean energy, and looked forward to the approval of the relevant scheme on financing facilities at the Bank's annual meeting in September.

He added that a large component of energy investment would stem from the private sector.  That required legal and policy frameworks that were transparent, predictable and enforceable.  The private sector's efforts to enhance corporate citizenship were particularly relevant in the energy sector, since its investments had high social and environmental impacts and were often prone to corruption.

ALDO MANTOVANI ( Italy) said the effects of climate change were dramatically threatening the livelihoods and, in some cases, the very existence, of a number of vulnerable countries.  The international community could not ignore the call for action coming from the small island developing States or from the African countries affected by desertification and land degradation.  The overall goal of stabilizing carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere required an extraordinary global effort in terms of research and innovation.  That required a long-term investment framework.  Investments in energy-related technologies between 2006 and 2012 were crucial to meeting the growing energy demand, he said, adding that the choice of energy technologies would determine the future of global emissions.

He said industrialized countries should assess whether the technology options to be used for compliance with the Kyoto Protocol also implied "decarbonization" objectives beyond 2012, since measures and technologies chosen in the short term could become obsolete after 2012.  Partnership initiatives represented a key instrument for stimulating private capital at national and international levels.  They facilitated the mobilization of financial resources earmarked for the transfer of environmentally sound technologies, and helped to create local business capacity and to disseminate technological know-how.  At the Commission's current session, Italy had launched the Global Bioenergy Partnership, which it hoped would offer opportunities to develop and disseminate readily available and reliable renewable energy sources.

LEO CUSHLEY, observer of the Holy See, said energy was central to achieving sustainable development goals.  While the absolute amount of worldwide renewable energy use had been rising significantly, the overall share of renewables in global total energy supply had increased only marginally over the past three decades.  Some renewable energy technologies were already mature and economically competitive, but the development of renewables continued to be a human, ecological, economic and strategic necessity and should have priority in public research projects.

The transportation sector, he said, was rightly found in all of the themes of the fourteenth and fifteenth sessions of the Commission, as it accounted for a large proportion of worldwide energy demand, was a major source of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and was an important element of industrial development.  The continued market penetration of various innovations needed to be encouraged through appropriate economic incentives and ongoing research and development.  Reliance in industry, transport, commerce and defence on traditional combustion engines was already a century-old.  Their replacement with clean, renewable alternatives was long overdue.

BAKI ILKIN ( Turkey) said that the World Summit on Sustainable Development had been a benchmark event, placing sustainable development at the forefront of the international agenda.  Important responsibilities fell upon Governments to reduce poverty by providing their citizens with basic services.  In that context, energy was crucial for achieving the three pillars of sustainable development, namely, economic growth, environmental protection and social welfare.  Sustainable development could only be achieved if a secure, uninterrupted, reliable and affordable energy supply was ensured.  Energy was, indeed, a strong tool in fighting poverty.  Different dimensions of sustainable development were strongly interlinked.  Economic growth required an energy supply, but it would be sustainable only if it did not threaten the environment or social welfare.  That was where the major challenges lay.  The framework for a more sustainable energy future was not yet decided.  In any case, it should not be static.  Rather, it must be continuously redefined and rebalanced with revised forecasts, identification of new bottlenecks, and the development of new technical solutions and technologies.

In that context, he said, Governments should develop policies to address the projected 60 per cent increase in the fossil fuel-based global energy demand over the next 30 years.  They should also develop new or supplementary policies to reverse the upward trends in greenhouse gas emissions.  Turkey had been pursuing policies in the areas of energy efficiency and environmentally sound technologies, as well as industrial pollution control.  To achieve sustainable energy development and energy efficiency, the Government had been strengthening efforts to develop and use safe technologies, promoting research and development for appropriate methodologies, raising public awareness of the issues, and assessing environmental impacts.  In line with that, the energy sector was working to integrate environmental considerations into their projects.  In order to accelerate and sustain progress in the interlinked themes, issues of financial assistance, capacity-building and technology transfer must be addressed globally.

HAMID AL-BAYATI ( Iraq) said that energy, industrial development and climate change were interrelated.  Energy was a basic element for industrial development. The combustion of fossil fuel for energy for transport was a source of atmospheric pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, but it was not the only source.  Iraq was in favour of promoting the use of alternative, renewable energy, including solar, wind and hydropower.  Renewables would play a vital role in limiting pollution.  He added that the entire responsibility for pollution should not be placed on fossil fuel.

The World Summit on Sustainable Development, he said, had reiterated the vital role of energy in reducing poverty, and that fulfilling global energy demand required integrated policies that took into account supply and demand.  After decades of the squandering of its wealth, Iraq was burdened with a debt that halted sustainable development.  Although it was a major source of energy with its enormous oil resources, terrorists had continued to target the country's infrastructure.  He called for the extension of "a helping hand" to stop terrorism, and to lay the groundwork to build up Iraq's infrastructure in order to tap its energy resources, further development and achieve the Millennium Goals.

MAGED GEORGE ELIAS, Minister of Environmental Affairs of Egypt, said that the development and sound management of primary energy sources were among the pivotal pillars of sustainable development in Egypt.  The sources of primary energy in Egypt were varied, and included fossil fuels, gasoline, coal, hydropower, solar, wind energy and biomass.  Energy demand was expected to increase 6 to 7 per cent annually in response to socio-economic and development plans.  Renewable energy sources played an important role in safeguarding the environment by limiting harmful emissions.  The world needed new energy policies, because those pursued today could not adequately respond to future challenges.  Egypt faced great challenges in response to the energy demands flowing from population growth; it must respond to climate change and decrease fossil fuel emissions.  While current strategic reserves of fossil fuel were on the decline in his country, energy prices were on the rise, and greenhouse gas emission levels and concomitant environmental degradation were worsening.

He said that, to address the forthcoming decline of the fossil fuel reserves while also addressing climate change and the increase in harmful emissions, his Government had taken several steps, including, among others:  putting an end to the emission of greenhouse gases causing environmental degradation; supporting reforestation projects by increasing the greenbelt around metropolitan Cairo; and planning more trees to increase the absorption of carbon dioxide and mitigate the air pollution effects.

JOÃO SALGUEIRO ( Portugal) said that finding reliable, affordable and environmentally sound energy solutions was urgent in a world in which rapid economic growth and other political circumstances resulted in daily increases in the price of fossil fuels.  Nevertheless, that should serve as an opportunity to place further emphasis on energy efficiency, the competitiveness of renewable energy, and on research and development of new, clean technologies.  Portugal recently updated its National Sustainable Development Strategy, at whose core was the commitment to promote energy efficiency and increase the use of renewables.  In 2004, Portugal was ranked second in the world for wind power capacity growth.  It was also on track to reach its 2010 target of 39 per cent renewables in electricity production.

In addition, he said his Government had recently approved plans on energy and technology, which raised the renewable targets to 44 per cent and allocated over €4 billion for investment.  Strong support for renewable energy was a clear "win-win" policy.  Renewables contributed to climate mitigation, local air pollution abatement, and ultimately energy security.  A balanced mix of private and public financing was essential for the "take-off" of energy projects, particularly in many developing countries.

MARGARITA R. SONGCO, Deputy Director General, National Economic and Development Authority of the Philippines, said that the broad-based restructuring of Philippine industry away from resource-intensive and low-skill activities towards more skill and value-intensive enterprises would require a commensurate expansion in the capacity and reliability of the underlying support system.  That included energy generation and distribution.  The Philippines sought energy security through a policy of energy independence, sustainability and efficiency.  That would involve:  increasing oil and gas exploration; strengthening the national oil company to spearhead development of renewable energy, such as geothermal, wind, solar, hydropower, and biomass; the vigorous utilization of the cleaner development mechanism and the emerging carbon market; expanding the use of natural gas; and adopting energy efficiency promotion strategies.

She said that those inclusive and sustainable approaches to development management were also expected to reap social and environmental benefits through reduced air and other types of pollution and the concomitant beneficial effect on general health.  Their positive impacts on climate change were also expected to significantly reduce climate-related natural disasters.  Those development strategies were beginning to bear fruit.  The country's drive to energy independence had raised the share of indigenous energy to 54 per cent of a total energy supply in 2004.  Improvements in energy sustainability had also been registered as a result of programmes promoting renewables.  The Philippines was among the biggest user of geothermal energy in the world and was at the cutting edge of technology to tap that resource.  Meanwhile, air quality, particularly in Metro Manila, was also improving, owing to stricter enforcement of the clean air act of 1999 and implementation of the lead-free gasoline programme.

MARIA DE FATIMA LIMA DA VEIGA ( Cape Verde) said that, to reduce the constraints faced by her country, the authorities had launched a set of reforms at the core of which was the adoption of a modern and efficient energy system, capable of meeting the increasing development needs, ensuring national economic growth and competitiveness, and improving living standards.  In the framework of those reforms, the State-owned electric and fuel utilities were privatized, regulatory entities were created, important investments were made in rural electrification, and a new fuel pricing mechanism was being set up.  Although the pilot projects conducted to date had had mixed results, Cape Verde intended to engage in a sustainable management of its renewable energy, namely wind and solar.  Increased access of the population to affordable, renewable energies and higher energy efficiency underpinned that strategy.

Other goals that remained high on her country's agenda were promoting industrial development on a cleaner basis and improving responses to climate change, she noted.  A National Strategy for Industrial Development had been recently adopted, which focused on the preservation of natural resources and the environment.  Furthermore, major international legally binding instruments dealing with the environment and climate change had been ratified and incorporated into the national legal framework.  An international enabling environment and effective partnerships were crucial in fostering solutions that fit common problems, but different realities, she added.

RODRIGO MALMIERCA DIAZ ( Cuba) said that Cuba's national environmental strategy of 1997 sought to improve the protection of the environment and the rational use of the natural resources, in order to achieve the goals of sustainable economic and social development.  The strategy was revised for the 2006-2010 period, owing to the identification of new problems resulting from the country's economic growth.  At the Commission's policy session next year, a number of aspects should be considered.  Among them, the international community should demonstrate the political determination to mobilize adequate resources and make effective use of existing ones to reduce the effects of natural disasters, bearing in mind the needs of developing countries, particularly the least developed ones.  It should stress free and appropriate technical access and cooperation for those countries to lessen the disasters' effects, and systematically incorporate natural disaster reduction measures into multilateral and bilateral development policies.

In addition, he said that next year's session should seek to promote financial support by the developed to the developing countries, particularly to the small island States, to build the necessary capacity to tackle climate change.  South-South cooperation should be fostered, particularly with respect to "SIDS-SIDS" cooperation, especially in terms of adaptation to climate change and in the area of coastal resources, renewable energy, health and education.  His Government was making extraordinary efforts to attain sustainable development, despite the tightening of the economic, commercial and financial blockade against its nation for more than 40 years by the biggest Power on the planet.  He wished to take the present opportunity to condemn that "genocidal policy".  Following the path of sustainable development required, above all, that the developed countries meet their commitments and responsibilities, in such areas as ODA, stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting effective technology transfers and generating new and additional resources.  Failure to meet those commitments would increase the gap between rich and poor.

COLLIN BECK ( Solomon Islands) said renewable energy was the way forward for small island developing States in reducing their vulnerability.  For his Government, its priorities were to assist the bulk of the population to convert their raw coconut exports into biofuel, and establish hydropower.  Discussions in the Commission on new and available financial resources should be complemented by an engagement on how such funds could be assessed.  Discussions must also lead to looking at protecting the fragile environment of countries like his own by exploring and providing alternatively sustainable economic activities for their people.  Otherwise, economic options for the rural population remained narrow.  One option was to provide support for stand-alone renewable energy technology for eco-tourism resorts.

He joined others in the call to make "SIDS Day" institutionalized into the Commission, in order to reflect the special challenges of small island developing States.  Also, he suggested having an improved way of holding debates focused on implementing agreed international sustainable development commitments, especially on accessing resources and taking partnership to another level.  He also suggested having a standing committee to oversee the work done, given the commitments leaders signed on to in the 2005 World Summit Outcome.  In addition, United Nations agencies, including the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), should assist countries such as his to map out wind potential.

DASHO NADO RINCHLEN, Minister, National Environment Commission of Bhutan, said that the insatiable thirst for energy, especially in the developing world, had made those countries highly vulnerable to energy shocks stemming from the price of conventional fossil fuels and other impacts, global warming, climate change and environmental degradation.  Carbon sequestration and nuclear power had been identified as some of the measures being taken by developed countries to provide clean energy and preserve the environment.  Enhancing energy security had taken centre stage and become a major part of foreign policy in both developed and developing nations today.  In Bhutan, the central development philosophy was based on the concept of maximizing "gross national happiness", or "GNH".  Its guiding principles were:  sustainable socio-economic development; promotion of culture; good governance; and conservation of the environment.  It placed people and the environment at the centre of all development.

He said that Bhutan was a landlocked, mountainous country, which, fortunately, was blessed with an abundance of water.  That was slowly being tapped to generate hydropower, both for domestic use and to export electricity.  Bhutan's key to sustainable development lay in its ability to harness its hydropower resources to stimulate economic growth, reduce poverty and earn the much-needed foreign exchange.  Yet, that very source of clean sustainable energy was being threatened, owing to the global warming, and thus, the receding, of its glaciers, the source of Bhutan's perennial rivers.  The country had devised master plans to develop renewable energy and provide alternative and clean energy supply options, technologies and demand side management.  Those objectives and strategies were being implemented through adoption of appropriate policies, power sector reforms, and specific development plans for hydropower, solar systems and biomass technology.  It had also introduced reforms and legislation to promote industrial development in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.

KADYRBEK SARBAEV, Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan, noted that his country had been selected as a model country on the effective use of hydro power.  The Government was studying the potential for the establishment of a solar thermal system, in order to reduce the use of natural resources and environmental pollution.  Kyrgyzstan, a mountain country with no access to the sea, was firmly dedicated to the ideals of sustainable development within the framework of international mountain partnerships.  His Government believed that a gradual shift to the use of renewable sources of energy would advance the shift of industrial development to a higher level.

Priority attention was being given in his country to extractive mining, he said.  Thus, industrial development was one of the sources of air pollution.  In 2000, Kyrgyzstan had become party to the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution.  In implementing its commitments under that agreement, Kyrgyzstan had been submitting annual reports on its emissions.  His country was also dedicated to the study of the impact of climate change, and was fully aware of the need to take specific measures in that regard, in active cooperation with the Global Environment Facility (GEF).  Kyrgyzstan had also become parties to a number of ecological conventions, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification.  Significant assistance in implementing ecological projects had been rendered by, among others, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the GEF.

LUCIEN LUX, Minister of the Environment of Luxembourg, focused his intervention on the connections between climate change and sustainable development, which were increasingly recognized as among the priority challenges of the twenty-first century.  Climate change seriously threatened all, and the human and material losses were already huge and would continue to increase.

Climate change might adversely affect many, many years of international gains and impede efforts at poverty reduction.  There was no choice.  If global warming was to be tackled effectively as a matter of urgency, the benefits in terms of avoiding the damage would be cost-effective, to a large extent.  At the conference in Montreal last December, the international community sent a strong signal that it intended to continue along the Kyoto "road" -- presently, the only way to combat climate change.  Luxembourg was shouldering its responsibility in that regard.  It had committed itself to reducing its emissions by 28 per cent.  That was an ambitious objective and very difficult to achieve.

Nationally, he said, efforts were under way to promote that reduction and encourage more environmentally sensitive consumer patterns.  A tax on cars based on carbon emissions had been introduced, and beginning 1 January 2007 another initiative aimed at changing consumption patterns would be introduced.  Luxembourg's influence in terms of fuel technologies was quite modest, because it was neither a producer nor even a supplier of fuels.  Kyoto was just a first step, but the agreement in Montreal for launching a dialogue for concerted, long-term action had been particularly welcome.  A new multilateral climate system that was both equitable and effective, from both the environmental and economic standpoints, must be established.  That was why the ministries of the environment from the European Union, prompted by a desire to control global climate warming, had said that global greenhouse emissions be halved between now and 2050.  Industrialized countries must accept even greater reductions -- 15 to 30 per cent by 2020, and 60 to 80 per cent by 2050, above the benchmarks set at Kyoto.

YASHAR ALIYEV ( Azerbaijan) said energy was central to the promotion of global development and growth.  Thus, ensuring access to energy services was a priority task.  Efficiency of supply chain and consumption was a prerequisite for combating energy poverty globally.  Energy represented a key input to industrial production and gross domestic product (GDP) growth.  Therefore, it was crucial to explore cost-effective opportunities to reduce energy use and pollution.  Higher policy priority should be assigned to energy efficiency in development programmes and strategies, and more resources should be allocated to activities on energy efficiency at the national, regional and global levels.

The private sector, he continued, had an important role to play in promoting sound health, safety and environment policies and respecting corporate social responsibility.  For its part, Azerbaijan would continue to contribute to regional energy security and support the diversification of energy supply to global markets.

DEVON ROWE, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Environment of Jamaica, said there needed to be more institutional focus for the exploration of renewable energy options for developing countries, with more institutions engaged in research and development.  That did not only mean research into new or more technologies, but an assessment of current real potential.  That would serve to accelerate the transfer of appropriate renewable energy technologies to developing countries through the most cost-effective method and to stimulate the competitiveness of renewable energy supplies in the market place.  One mechanism with which to move forward was South-South cooperation.  While no substitute for North-South cooperation, the former could assist in the successful commercialization and advance of appropriate technologies and further the development of local renewable energy markets.  He also strongly encouraged the active involvement of the private sector in such initiatives.

He noted that, through the discussions, several small island developing States had indicated their vulnerability to climate change and the importance of adaptation measures, as well as mitigation measures by developed countries.  The importance of the use of renewable energy in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions could not be overemphasized.  Through the clean development mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol, renewable energy technology could be transferred to developing countries with their limited financial resources.  That would be mutually beneficial.  To move forward, he suggested the following specific measures:  the incorporation of urban and regional planning initiatives into transportation planning; recognizing that linkages based on stewardship was important; strengthening national and collective capacities of countries to develop their own policy strategies regarding the international regime on energy, climate change and atmospheric pollution; the development of public and private sector education and awareness-raising strategies; and promoting sustainable consumption and production practices. Large-scale expansion of renewable energy initiatives was crucial to meeting developing countries' needs, but that required positive global support.

PENNELOPE BECKLES, Minister of Public Utilities and the Environment of Trinidad and Tobago, said her country had developed a National Strategic Plan, aimed at achieving sustainable livelihoods, sustainable growth and poverty eradication by 2020 in a coordinated and integrated manner.  Also, the recently Revised National Environmental Policy provided a comprehensive framework for environmental management and the necessary guidance for enhancing the regulatory framework.  Efforts were under way to increase energy efficiency and reduce air pollution by shifting to cleaner energy sources, especially natural gas.  While income generated from oil and gas had slowed the move towards renewable energy development, the Government saw an opportunity to utilize some of the finance generated in pilot projects in sustainable/renewable energy programmes.

Regarding the way forward, she noted a number of challenges, including securing the necessary support of the international community, and improved partnerships with key regional and international institutions for inputs in energy planning and forecasting and to address industrial pollution.  Other challenges were improved South-South cooperation for enhanced information-sharing and technology transfer for the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, as well as assistance from the international community for promoting the sustainability of small and medium-sized enterprises.

LUCIANO DE CASTRO, Minister for Coordination of Environmental Affairs of Mozambique, said the availability of energy would play a crucial role in allowing his country to achieve the goals set out in its Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty.  Indeed, the availability of clean energy, accessible to all, was crucial to the promotion of social and economic development.  A challenge for Mozambique was to ensure that the availability of energy would unleash individual and collective initiatives, leading to the creation of jobs, improving the provision of services, and creating better opportunities for education.

Mozambique had a very considerable energy resource potential, including hydroelectric power, natural gas, coal and biomass, and it had the capacity to meet the growing demands of the country.  To exploit those resources properly and to make the country self-sufficient in the field of energy, it would need financial resources and greater technical capacity.  The Government was committed to the promotion of initiatives to safeguard the environment, particularly through implementation of a programme under way since 2004 to eliminate the use of leaded fuel and to encourage the production of biofuel.

CLAUDIO LANGONE, Deputy Minister of the Environment of Brazil, said that the use of biomass as an energy source had created great opportunities for confronting socio-economic challenges.  Brazil was especially aware of those challenges, and its experimentation, especially in the area of biofuels, had demonstrated a development model that gave appropriate weight to economic development, social inclusion and environmental conservation.  There were many good reasons to use biofuels.  The Climate Change Convention had made that clear.  There was no time for delay for the countries listed in the treaty's annex 1 -- for them, biofuels represented a major opportunity.  Indeed, the majority of developing nations could help reduce their emissions.  He reaffirmed his commitment to the 1992 principle of common, but differentiated, responsibility, consecrated at Rio.

He said that, although there were no great technological barriers to the increased use of biofuels, there were unacceptable political and economic barriers, which persistently prevented the increased use of renewables in the global energy network.  Yet, their use would help developing countries.  Instead, those countries were encouraged to adopt internal economic policies that discouraged energy options derived from biomass.  That was inexplicable, given the impact of biomass in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting technological and industrial development, regeneration of wealth and closing the social divide.  Brazil's experience in the past 30 years with biofuels had illustrated the potential.  Flex-fuel vehicles now represented 60 per cent of new car sales in the country.  In the current global environment, it was essential to create effective tools to increase South-South cooperation.  He had no doubt about the positive results that could come from such a model.

HAMID CHITCHIAN, Senior Deputy Minister of Energy of Iran, speaking on behalf of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) -- a regional organization devoted to the socio-economic development of its 10 member countries, informed the Commission of various plans and programmes adopted by ECO.  They included the Plan of Action on Environment and the ECO Plan of Action for Industrial Cooperation, as well as plans regarding new and renewable sources of energy, the development of pastures in the region, and drought management.  In order to finalize those proposals and proceed to implementation, ECO would welcome cooperation with other countries, as well as regional and international organizations, including the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

KAREN KRAFT SLOAN, Ambassador for the Environment, Canada, said that the current session had identified the various barriers to implementation and, in so doing, had identified a variety of issues that required further refinement at the intergovernmental preparatory meeting, in order that those might be successfully addressed at the fifteenth session of the Commission.  States must work within the context of their natural resource endowments, with a view to increasing access to energy services, which were reliable, affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable, and environmentally sound.  Addressing issues of energy for sustainable development, climate change, air pollution and industrial development were essential to poverty eradication.  Some barriers, particularly systemic ones, such as inadequate governance structures, were the primary responsibility of national Governments.  Others, such as lack of financing, infrastructural deficiencies, and old and inefficient technologies, required the collective efforts of Government, industry and civil society.

She said that further work was needed to identify sustainable development policies to address systemic issues and to foster enabling environments that provided clear market signals.  Official development assistance could help in that regard, with a catalytic contribution to create the certainty needed for long-term economic transformation.  That encouraged private sector investment, including foreign direct investment, so vital for scaling-up efforts.  Innovative implementation vehicles, such as public-private partnerships, also had a role to play.  In addition, the exchange and uptake of clean technologies should be encouraged, at home and internationally.  Such technologies could assist developing countries to leapfrog the emissions-intensive development pathway.  Finally, scientific research should be bolstered, and it should be ensured that results better informed policy and technology choices.  The focus next year should be on select priority areas, which could reasonably be expected to be advanced by further intergovernmental negotiation.

IBRAHIM M. SESAY, Deputy Minister of Development and Economic Planning of Sierra Leone, said that small- and medium-scale enterprises, which were a key to the development of the industrial sector, were mostly resource-starved and under-financed.  With little capital investment, they found themselves increasingly relying on generating their own electricity from petro-generators.  The increase in energy consumption, coupled with rising energy prices, had not only increased the production costs of such enterprises, but also the rate of atmospheric pollution, with its consequences on human health.  Therefore, it was necessary to embark on energy efficient projects that would enhance industrial development, decrease air pollution and improve human well-being.

The heavy dependence on fossil fuel and centralized infrastructure for energy services excluded the vast majority of people in rural areas from the socio-economic benefits of a modern system.  It was in rural areas that renewable energy could make the biggest difference and help meet the Millennium Goals in a more environmentally friendly and sustainable manner.  Innovative financing for renewable energy research and technologies was urgently required, especially in the developing world.

JAIME ALEJANDRE, Director General of Environmental Quality of Spain, said that key to sustainable development was the integration of cross-sectoral policies, such as transportation, industry, housing and infrastructure.  Given the price pressures and limited reserves in combustible fuels, and the fact that natural gas was a transitional energy source, energy policy must seek out new sources by promoting renewable sources.  That would prove to be very important in future technologies, and it was cost-competitive.  The promotion of renewables also created jobs, guaranteed energy supply, and cut emissions.  He also favoured the Kyoto Protocol and other innovative initiatives, such as eco-taxation.

He said that climate change issues were very important in Spain because of the rapid desertification process.  Air quality issues were also very important, and efforts were under way to improve air pollution in urban centres and big cities, especially to curb the incidence of the resultant unacceptable illness and premature deaths.  Mainstreaming gender was a strategic key to sustainable development. Transparency was also necessary when devising environmental policies.

JOSEPH NTAKIRUTIMANA ( Burundi) said that among the consequences of climate change in Burundi was an energy deficit.  Rationing electricity had had an impact on the profits obtained from manufactured goods and services.  Thus, there had been attempts to provide wood as a substitute fuel, which had led to pressure on the environment and deforestation.  Now that the country had emerged from the conflict that began in 1993, it was time to build the infrastructure that had been destroyed.  The delay in achieving the Millennium Goals would never be made up, because investments were insufficient, even though some countries and international financial institutions were trying to lessen the country's debt burden.  He called on donors and UNEP to be sensitive to his country's needs.

MOSES SAYELA WALUBITA ( Zambia) stressed that action on climate change, global energy insecurity and poverty was particularly urgent.  Scientists largely agreed that, without major policy shifts in the next five years, the world faced an uncertain future.  Zambia had numerous challenges in integrating the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes, and reversing the loss of environmental resources.  Those included:  high poverty levels, especially among the rural population, compounded by a still unapproved revised land policy; lack of coordination between sector policy, compounded by the lack of an overarching environmental policy; and deficient institutional capacities, rendering ineffective the enforcement of legislation and the implementation of policies and strategies concerning the environment and natural resources.

He said that his Government had taken several steps to address those challenges, including:  formulation of a poverty reduction strategy paper; establishment of a medium-term expenditure framework, which provides priorities in programmes on a three-year basis; and the formulation of a sectoral development plan, which emphasized a decentralized approach in development and would likely to reduce poverty among many Zambians.  Other initiatives had included the development of the national adaptation action programme, currently under preparation; the development of the national capacity self-assessment; the development and promotion of alternative energy sources; and implementation of afforestation and reforestation programmes.  Energy efficiency could increase economic performance and, in most cases, reduce emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gasses, for which more financing, capacity-building and technology transfers were needed.

RADZI RAHMAN ( Malaysia) said his country's policy focus in the energy sector was to ensure a secure, reliable and cost-effective supply of energy.  Emphasis was being given to increasing the use of alternative fuels, particularly renewable energy, and to increasing energy efficiency.  Malaysia had formulated a road map for the development of solar, hydrogen and fuel cells, and was actively promoting the development of biofuel from palm oil for the transportation sector.  While national efforts were important, they must be reinforced with additional resources, including finance, technology and capacity-building.  Focus must be given to accelerating the development, dissemination and deployment of affordable, cleaner and more efficient energy.

JORGE BALLESTERO ( Costa Rica) spoke on behalf of the Coalition of Rainforest Nations ( Bolivia, Central African Republic, Chile, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Gabon, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu).  He said that the current development framework was inadequate.  In rural forest areas, the sole real opportunity for economic growth required destruction of the forests, either by replacing the forest with agriculture or the selling of timber.  The current incentives system offered by international markets for agriculture or forests frequently led to deforestation, environmental deterioration or more poverty.  That was not sustainable over the long term, especially in helping rural populations escape poverty.  When addressing issues of rainforests, the world should forge market incentives with sustainable results.  The Kyoto Protocol was an example of how the markets of ecosystem services could be used to support environmentally sustainable growth.

He said that deforestation was the second source of carbon emissions, yet that significant emissions source had not been included in the Kyoto Protocol.  The Protocol sought to protect those forests that had already been destroyed, but not those that had avoided deforestation.  That flew in the face of logic.  If the world community was serious about climate change, that was not a rational response.  The coalition joined with other developing countries to advocate change, through an initiative that was part of a new topic on the Climate Change Convention agenda -- reducing emissions caused by deforestation in developing countries.  According to the World Bank, that initiative could provide billions of dollars in incentives each year to developing countries and encourage them to preserve their forests, rather than destroy them.  On climate change, voluntary instruments could significantly reduce emissions and further sustainable development. 

JERROL THOMPSON, Minister of Telecommunications, Science, Technology and Industry of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that, in his region, the level of greenhouse gas emissions was insignificant when compared to the rest of the world.  However, the countries of the Caribbean suffered disproportionately from the consequences of global warming.  The changes in the global and regional environments were forcing small island developing States to reform their economies to enhance their competitiveness and economic growth.  In many cases, those reforms had resulted in modest economies and social gains.  Nevertheless, the small island developing States of the Caribbean remained vulnerable to external shocks and must build mechanisms to manage those adversities.

There was a great potential for renewable energy in all CARICOM States, he said.  There was an abundance of sun and wind.  Solar water heating was widespread in Barbados and a pilot wind farm existed in Jamaica.  Geothermal potential existed in several countries such as Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.  The external pressures on sugar exports had spurred new efforts to produce ethanol and fuel-cane for electrical generation.  He called on oil companies to reinvest a greater portion of their record profits into the adoption and implementation of renewable energy initiatives for small island developing States, who were the least able to afford high oil prices.

THEOPHILUS FERGUSON JOHN, Minister for Physical Development, Environment and Housing of Saint Lucia, said his country, together with national, regional and international partners, had adopted a sustainable energy plan.  It set targets for including renewable energy into the national energy portfolio, and it identified strategies for achieving those targets.  Saint Lucia had also embarked on the development of a national energy policy.  Measures should be streamlined to facilitate access by the small island developing States to resources.  The way forward was to build on the experiences from the "SIDS" regions and develop a full-scale programme of support for the development and implementation of national sustainable development strategies.  Lessons in that regard should be learned from the Barbados Model regarding solar energy, and the work on sustainable development indicators from Papua New Guinea and Saint Lucia, itself.  The small island countries should also maximize opportunities to develop biofuels.  Despite the abundance of solar radiation, the use of photovoltaic technology was not widespread, owing to the relatively high installation cost and the fact that nearly 100 per cent of the population had access to the national power grid.

Nevertheless, he said, solar heaters were increasingly used.  The Government had introduced fiscal incentives, such as income tax relief, in order to promote their use.  It also provided incentives for the importation of renewable energy technologies, in general.  Various delegations had also emphasized adaptation to climate change.  The small island countries' coastal zones were of high economic importance and, thus, the necessary support was needed to implement protective measures.  Those could include wave-breaks, rejuvenated coral reefs or artificial reefs or enhancements of mangroves and sea grass beds.  He noted with concern that the GEF benefit index for climate change was based solely on a country's ability to contribute to mitigation.  That meant that small island developing States had the lowest indicative allocation under the Resource Allocation Framework.  The benefit index, therefore, should be revisited.  It was extremely disappointing that the SIDSNet no longer had a staff to assist in advancing the work of the small island developing States.

ABDUL HAKIM EL-WAER, Secretary of the Environment of Libya, emphasized that energy was the driving force of development.  His country was committed to reaching the goals set out in "Agenda 21" and in other intergovernmental meetings on sustainable development.  Libya believed in promoting clean energy and clean air, and supported institutions that protected the environment in the country.  It had ratified the Kyoto Protocol, and progressed in the implementation of policies to reduce gas emissions.  Among other efforts, it had reduced the use of leaded gasoline and increased its use of natural gas.  It also supported programmes to increase "green areas" in the effort to combat drought and desertification.

He noted that the focus on renewable energy should not lessen the importance of fossil fuel, which would remain the main source of energy supply for decades to come.  The aspirations to achieve development goals would remain closely related to the supply of that energy source.  Technological advances to reduce greenhouse gas emissions had created optimism.  Libya had recently increased its production of natural gas, and had started pumping it from Libya through a pipeline to Italy in order to meet European energy needs.

FEKITAMOELOA 'UTOIKAMANU (Tonga) said that, although Tonga was a small island developing State, it was, nevertheless, cognizant of its needs and responsibilities under various multilateral environmental agreements, as well as binding global and regional sustainable development frameworks such as Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.  With regard to air pollution, Tonga had participated in the regional programme for the implementation of the Montreal Protocol in the Pacific region.  Implementation had involved wide consultation with relevant stakeholders resulting in the development of draft national legislation and regulations and training activities targeting refrigeration technicians, among others.

Regarding climate change, she noted that Tonga had completed its first national report under the Climate Change Convention, and work on its second report was under way.  It had been possible, with the support of the UNDP, to provide adaptation-related assistance to a local community which had experienced severe coastal erosion and inundation due to rising sea level.  Tonga would welcome donor assistance, especially in terms of more formal and long-term training of technicians and scientists in the technical aspects of climate change.

ARJUN BAHADUR THAPA ( Nepal) said the four areas of the Commission's focus -- energy, industrial development, air pollution and climate change -- were closely interlinked to the goals of poverty eradication and sustainable development.  Nepal, a party to numerous international environmental agreements, was committed to promoting sustainable development, which had been integrated into its national development strategies.  The new democratic Government in his country was determined to pursue sustainable development, including by enhancing the wide-ranging participation of all stakeholders.  Nepal had a lot of potential for renewable energy, which would hopefully lead to reducing dependency on firewood and reducing health risks, particularly for rural women.  The numerous constraints faced by developing countries required the continued support of the international community.  He urged development partners to scale up their support to the developing countries, including the provision of affordable and environmentally sound technologies.

GEORGE TALBOT ( Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, highlighted some of the priorities for the Group in orienting the Commission's future work.  First, the interdependent relationship between the pursuit of sustainable development and the achievement of internationally agreed development goals had been unequivocally reaffirmed.  The continuation of current trends would not lead to the achievement of major international goals for a majority of States, including in his region.

It was necessary, he said, to pursue a course that would assure people-centred, equitable and sustainable development and environmentally sustainable economic growth.  It was clear that, to overcome many of the challenges faced by developing countries, greater international cooperation was needed in such areas as development and transfer of cleaner, more efficient technologies, and expanded use of renewable energy.

Second, he continued, it was necessary to deal with the issues before the Commission on their own merit, as well as in an integrated manner.  Progress must be achieved holistically and without detriment to any area.  Third, there was great urgency in pursuing more enlightened global action on issues pertaining to sustainable development.  In that connection, the Commission, as an intergovernmental process, was well suited to contribute significantly to the achievement of those objectives.

EDWARD OSEI NSENKYIRE, Chief Director, Ministry of Environment and Science of Ghana, said that, in most cases, in his country energy services were either lacking or were grossly inadequate.  Rural entrepreneurs, especially women, had to resort to traditional sources of energy, notably the use of biomass with its environmental and health hazards.  To enable rural communities, particularly women, to increase their productivity and add value to their products, the way forward was to involve them in producing, managing and marketing new energy services within micro- and small-scale enterprises.  Individual poor women who had the capabilities should be provided with technical training, information and skills to operate energy technologies and businesses.

A project that was being implemented and owned by four countries in his subregion -- Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Ghana -- was the West African Gas Pipeline, he said.  If the outputs of that project were properly harnessed, they could go a long way in meeting the energy needs of the rural poor along the West African coast.  Fish processing, among other enterprises, which was a major means of livelihood for women along the coast, would greatly benefit from the project.

ABOUBACRY DEMBA LOM, Director of National Planning and Regional Planning Coordination of Senegal, said that, in order to find global solutions, Senegal had drawn up a strategy and sectoral policy on the environment to reverse current trends.  A plan of action to achieve the Millennium Development Goals had also been formulated, and a legislative framework for the environment had been adopted.  All of those efforts, however, required the mobilization of resources.  Access to energy services remained a problem, especially electricity.  Coverage increased from 6 per cent in 2000 to 12.5 per cent in 2004, while in the urban areas, only 55 per cent of the population had electricity.  The major dependency on energy, combined with the lack of efficiency and affordability, stifled the economy.  The cost of oil to Senegal was exorbitant, and biomass consumption was at 40 per cent.  The latter negatively affected forests.  Given those factors, Senegal was interested in diversifying its energy sources and turning to renewables.

Thus, he said, the country had implemented a new energy policy designed to promote activities involving the private sector and local communities in efforts to diversify energy sources and technologies, further control of renewable energy sources, improve access to local fuel supply, and promote a smooth transition from biomass.  Access to energy was also being strengthened in rural and semi-rural areas, especially in such sectors as education and health.  Senegal had also proposed a major resource mobilization for restructuring polluting industries in a way that saved energy and reversed negative environmental trends.  Equitable trade in energy, transfer of technologies and the introduction of clean technologies would ensure a greater foundation for meeting the population's development needs.

CARMEN MARIA GALLARDO HERNANDEZ ( El Salvador) said that energy was a key element for sustainable development.  However, it must be acknowledged that the use of fossil fuels had a direct impact on climate change.  Emissions were largely due to energy consumption and production patterns, industrial development, and the energy needs of the transportation sector, among others.  She emphasized the need to promote a more rational use of fuels, as well as the use of renewable energy technologies.  The urgency of encouraging the use of renewable energy, with a view to contributing to a sustainable energy system, must be acknowledged.  Her country was advancing legal, financial and market-based instruments as incentives for the use of renewable energy sources.

She noted that 35 per cent of the population of Central America did not have access to electricity.  The region had defined a policy for cleaner production with guidelines for the rational use of inputs and the elimination of wastes.  For the implementation of its policies and plans, the region needed the support of the international community and fairer prices and conditions for the transfer of environmentally-friendly technologies.  She reiterated the importance of working towards a sustainable energy system.

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