2012 is the UN’s International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. The UN will be using this opportunity to increase awareness of the 1.3 billion people without electricity and will work to introduce sustainable energy across the globe.
The campaign was originally announced by Ban Ki-Moon back in September 2010 and was chosen to be the focus for the start of his second, five-year term. By making sustainable energy available to the world’s poorer communities Ban will lead the UN in protecting the climate as well as taking a huge leap forward in combating poverty. There are three main aims to the campaign:
1) Ensuring every community in the world has access to modern energy sources. A lack of access to energy holds down developing countries and poses risks to human health and safety. For example, smoke from polluting and inefficient cooking, lighting, and heating devices kills nearly two million people prematurely every year.
2) Improving energy efficiency to combat climate change. More efficient distribution and use of energy could free up power that is currently being lost or wasted. Making full use of existing energy sources will save money which will provide capital which can be invested in additional energy supply or economic development.
3) Doubling the amount of renewable energy currently available in the global market. At present, renewable energy sources provide 19 per cent of global energy consumption. If supported by strong enabling policies, renewable energy could supply more than three quarters of the world's energy by 2050.
The United Nations General Assembly is encouraging Member States to "take advantage of the Year to increase the awareness of the importance of addressing energy issues, including modern energy services for all, access to affordable energy, energy efficiency and the sustainability of energy sources and use (...) and to promote action at the local national, regional and international levels."
To make this happen the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will be forming national bodies to ensure action for each country. Other initiatives being planned are the formation of an Energy Access Practitioner Network to bring together public and private sectors to develop an integrated and strategic approach to achieving energy for all by 2030. The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves aims to ensure 100 million households have adopted clean and efficient cookstoves and fuels by 2020.
To find out about what success has already been achieved or to find out more information take a look at the Sustainable Energy for All website.