Distinguished Guests, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by expressing my thanks to Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology and Coalition for Our Common Future for inviting me to address this important climate energy conference.
It is good to be here in Seoul. I have lost count how many times I have been to the Republic of Korea, the country where my father in law once served as Indonesia’s Ambassador, and where my wife Ani spent her life’s memorable years.
I stand on this rostrum today in my capacity as Chairman of GGGI. I am pleased to inform you that, since its founding in 2012, GGGI has rapidly progressed to be a reputable champion for green growth. Thus, the Korean people should be proud that their country is the initiator and host of such a wonderful and impactful organization as GGGI.
The theme of this climate – energy conference is actually part of the 4 thematic priorities of GGGI, namely : green city, energy, water and land use. And, the topic of this conference — “On the Road to Paris and the Green Big Bang” — is spot on.
I was born in 1949. At that time, global greenhouse gas emissions amounted to 6 billion tons. Today, that figure has sharply risen to around 35 billion tons — 6 times what it was over 6 decades ago ! I cannot imagine carbon emissions rising another 6 times in the next 6 decades. That is not the world I want my 3 grandchildren to live in.
But in reality, this is what continues to happen. The last 18 years have witnessed the hottest 15 years ever recorded in the world. And the first 10 months of 2014 were the warmest on Earth since modern record-keeping began in 1880.
A recent study by Professors in UC Berkeley shows that the unmitigated climate change will shrink global economy by 23% in 2100.
Climate change is indeed a security threat like no other. One indication that times are changing was reflected in one interesting poll by PEW, which found “China and India fear climate change more than each other”
Which leads to the central question relating to this climate – energy conference : how do we adjust our energy needs for future climate economics ? Energy use is still a predominant source of global carbon emissions, more so than industry, agriculture, transport, and others.
Carbon emissions from fossil fuel use make up about two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions.
In the next 15 years, the world’s energy demand is projected to grow by some 25 – 35%, as up to 3 billion people enter the global middle class and world economic output doubles. We should not aim to meet this surge in energy demand by producing more fossil fuels.
I am aware that in the short term, this dependence on fossil fuel will continue. But clearly for the long-term, renewable energy is the way to go.
Here, developments around the world prove that we have some cause for optimism on the prospects of renewables.
For example, in 2013, for the first time, the world added more low-carbon electricity capacity than fossil fuel capacity.
Significantly also, global economic growth and CO2 emissions are beginning to decouple. The global economy grew by 3% last year, but CO2 emissions did not rise.
I also note that clean tech investment is surging in a promising way. Each dollar invested in renewables today buys more capacity than ever. For example, $ 270 billion invested in renewables in 2014 bought 36% more capacity than US$ 279 billion spent in 2011.
Which is perhaps why sustainable companies have outperformed their peers by 9 % over the past 4 years.
Renewable energy is therefore the game changer in the climate economics.
For example, Brazil, China, the European Union, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, and the United States — together represent 65 percent of global energy demand.
If these 8 economies follow through on their INDCs — or Intended Nationally Determined Contribution — the amount of clean energy on the grid will more than double by 2030.
All these efforts serve as critical building blocks in the climate agreement that we hope will be finalized at COP-21 this month.
Our strategic goal, as specified under the climate change convention (UNFCCC), is for all countries to work together to limit the rise of global temperature to 2 degrees Celcius above preindustrial levels.
In order to do this, the human race can only spend 1 trillion tons of carbon budget. We have already spent two-thirds of this global carbon budget. We have only 3 decades left to spend the remaining one-third.
In the past 21 years, climate negotiations have been characterized by strong considerations of national interest.
But at the COP-21 in Paris, I hope all country delegates would go beyond national interests, and think and act as one big human family, with the much needed will and imagination to answer the call of history to save our planet.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that to achieve a 2°C pathway, annual investment in low-carbon power supply — solar, wind, hydropower, bioenergy and nuclear, as well as carbon capture and storage — will need to grow to an average of about US$ 520 billion per year between 2014 and 2035.
The developing countries, including the Least Developed Countries, do care and do have the will to act. At the GGGI Assembly and Council Meeting yesterday, we heard delegates from Colombia, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Philippines, Nepal, Senegal, Uganda and Indonesia, expressing strong interests and clear plan in a green future. But many of them lack resources, knowhow, technology, and finance.
And they want to see COP-21 producing a clear global climate agreement so that they can pursue low carbon development future with adequate support and predictability.
Developed countries need to help the developing countries close this huge gap in finance so that all countries can low carbon development path. I understand that this figure would amount to annual financing of around $ 100 billion a year. Yes, it is a staggering sum but it is a worthy investment in our common future.
But developing countries can also do their part. Innovation, research and development, investment is not the monopoly of developed countries — there is plenty of space for the developing world as well.
Here is where I commend Korea’s leadership and innovation. Korea has become a pioneer in energy innovation. For example, you have made amazing advances in tidal technology, which could well be one of the game changers — I am told your tidal wave power has been able to supply energy needs for small coastal towns. I hope you will be able to share this remarkable knowhow with other nations. Archipelagic countries like Indonesia will have a lot of use for such tidal energy.
One last point : any ambitious plan to develop climate energy requires the expansion of Public Private Partnership – PPP. Many local governments with limited resources are looking for alternative source of capital, and many companies are interested to partner with Governments. Yet, often the price is not right, and the regulatory framework is unclear.
There is no single one size fits all model of PPP, which means they need to be creative in working out the right business models that suit their specific local conditions. If countries, and cities, can work out the right PPP, then I am sure that we will witness a rapid growth of renewable energy worldwide.
This will also impact on jobs – good jobs. Indeed, this is one area that GGGI has focused on. GGGI has done extensive studies in several developed and developing countries, and concluded that the shift to clean energy will not only contribute to greener economy, it can actually generate considerable employment. Brazil, for example, focusing on green technology especially the wind sector can add nearly half a million jobs. For Indonesia, clean energy investments could lead to more than 8 million jobs. In Germany, employment in green technologies is already 2 million and counting. The same is also true for South Korea and South Africa, to varying degrees. This, I believe, is only the tip of the iceberg given that the business potential for green energy is simply limitless.
Finally, let me say that green growth is both top bottom and bottom up process. We must see it at work globally and nationally and locally. But all these levels can only work if we can make it work at the most basic level, which is in the households, and the individual. If households around the world become climate conscious, and embrace low carbon lifestyle in their daily activities, then we shall finally be able to save humanity, and save our planet.
I thank you.