Essay

My Vision for the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (2014-2024)

Ward Snoek

It is a great privilege for an energy engineer and member of the Model United Nations Society Belgium to address the UN about the matter the closest to my heart. The future of our energy system and its implications on climate change and sustainable development is one of the most important and pressing matters at hand. The problem's specific nature calls for a global solution. Therefore, this is exactly the crisis for which UN has been established. UN efforts to take responsibility are admirable but not yet sufficient.

On the matter of energy policy, the international community is at a crossroad. Declaring 2014-2024 as 'the decade of sustainable energy for all' in the General Assembly is this crossroad's signpost to the right path. Although passionately spreading the idea of energy and environmental sustainability, these words unfortunately remain empty if they cause no action. Governments, the private sector and civil society not only need to be shown the way but they also need to be strongly incentivized to follow it. An ambitious, effective, and globally enforced climate treaty is crucial if we want to avoid an environmental catastrophe. Indeed, there is a great deal of good work to do in the UNFCCC.

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My Vision for the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (2014-2024)

Alexander Walzl

Dear Mr Secretary-General,

Today, more than a century after the release of the first light bulb to the market, one fifth of all humans still live without electricity. The world’s population is growing, while poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa continues to rise at an even higher rate. At the same time, over 80% of aggregate global energy comes from fossil fuels, contributing to climate change that may hit poor countries the hardest. Over the next ten years, universal energy access could realistically be achieved, while the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and the share of renewable energy could be doubled. This would have a gargantuan impact on world poverty and hunger. In my opinion, a universally recognized agency could effectively reach these goals by enforcing a global emissions cap on developed countries while quickly increasing and monitoring energy efficiency in the developing world. Governments would mutually benefit from a high degree of autonomy and individual policy recommendations gathered through big data analytics, which would ensure that they efficiently implement the right projects to comply with their quotas.

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My Vision for the Decade of SE4All: Guiding Global Efforts With An Integrated Approach

In 1935, the United States established the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) to extend electric and telephone lines into rural areas without access. Over the coming decades it was instrumental in achieving universal access to these services throughout the US. At the time the initiative faced skepticism about its practicality, about its cost, and about the benefit of extending energy access to those without it (Ellis 1966). Today, of course, the United States looks back on this milestone as one of its proudest.

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My Vision for the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All

Dear Mr. Secretary General,

I could not agree more on the centrality of energy issues to sustainable development, and in particular the necessity of expanding access to the world's poor, but I think characterizing 2014-­2024 as the "Decade of Sustainable Energy for All" is the wrong approach. Sustainable development is fundamentally an inter-­temporal social planning problem; it asks whether people at the end of a decade are as well off as they were at the start. Access, affordability and the externalities of energy use will certainly factor into this dynamic calculus of well-­‐being, but so too will a myriad of other dimensions affected by energy choices. In this essay I will argue that human well-­‐being should be the central precept of sustainable development, and that a participatory, dynamic evaluation of energy policy is necessary to augment the currently incomplete policy analysis process. To fulfill this vision, I suggest first rebranding 2014-­2024 as the "Sustainable Decade of Energy for All".

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