UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the funds flowing to renewable power and efficiency aren’t sufficient to avert environmental calamities and that investors must move more quickly to back new energy technologies.
“Climate change is a threat to economies large and small and to the stability of the global financial system,” Ban said today in a speech at a Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New York. “The climate clock is ticking. The longer we delay the greater the cost. We only have one planet Earth. We have no plan B.”
Global investment in renewable investment fell 11 percent to $269 billion last year, the first decline since 2009, according to New Energy Finance. Annual investments of $700 billion to $1.8 trillion in sustainable-energy development are needed to help thwart damages expected from climate change as the global population climbs to 8 billion people by 2030, the UN estimates.
The comments underscore Ban’s support for efforts to protect the environment. The UN has led an effort to bring more than 190 nations together to develop carbon-reduction policies, and Ban said he received a personal commitment from U.S. President Barack Obama two weeks ago to work toward a binding climate agreement in 2015.
“He’s assured me that the U.S. will lead by example,” Ban said.
In addition, people and corporations must reduce waste and consume energy more efficiently. He told bankers and fund managers gathered at the conference they must “lead by example” and that he’s doing the same.
“I have been dutifully, faithfully turning off lights in my hotel,” Ban said. “Sometimes it’s very difficult these days, all different hotels have a very different system of lighting. Normally I stay in a suite so there are many, many lights.”
Daniel Poneman, the deputy U.S. energy secretary and acting head of the department until a successor is confirmed, said that more than half of all energy consumed in the U.S. is wasted, and eliminating some of this would boost the economy.
“This is not just about saving the environment,” Poneman said in a speech before Ban. “These costs go right to the bottom line.”