Showdown looms on UN Energy Day

It’s the big day for the Sustainable Energy For All initiative at Rio+20. An all-day event, UN Energy Day, takes place in the Riocentro Convention Center with everyone who’s anyone due to make panel presentations.

The timing of some of the overnight media stories may prove less than ideal. There’s a widely syndicated Reuters interview with Dr Kandeh Yumkella, in which the co-chair of the High-level Group defends the role of fossil fuels (and gas in particular) in achieving the universal access goal.

Indeed, this is the day for Kandeh to hang all his dirty carbon washing on the line and get it over with. In Project Syndicate he co-authors a piece with Helge Lund, CEO of Statoil, which asserts that “All energy sources and technologies have a role to play in achieving universal access.”

Dr Yumkella completes his hat-trick of big business schmoozing in The Sierra Express Media where his photo appears alongside co-chair, Charles Holliday, Chair of Bank of America. “A strategic business opportunity with trillion-dollar potential,” is the verdict on the challenge of “supplying energy to the billions who lack electricity.”

This will be all too much for many NGOs. I predict another “civil society statement” today, critical of SEFA’s governance structure, probably based on the document I discussed here last week. This will be supported by the NGO establishment players who will command respect.

It’s not just the corporate presence in the High-level Group that stirs passions. During the Rio Dialogues yesterday we were reminded by Sheila Oparaocha of ENERGIA that, of the 35 members of the Group, only 4 are women.

Have a nice day.


this article was first published by OneWorld UK