9th Special Session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme/Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Dubai/Nairobi, 9 February 2006-Rapid and global improvements in the energy efficiency of buildings, factories and cars are needed to overcome the world’s over-dependency on fossil fuels, environment ministers said today at the end of an international gathering.
Energy savings at home, at work and on the world’s highways offer the “greatest immediate scope” for tackling the fuel crisis that is challenging the economies of the developed and the developing world, they said.
Saving energy and using it more efficiently also carries direct benefits in terms of fighting climate change and reducing health hazardous emissions in cities and in homes.
Energy efficiency codes and standards should be adopted world-wide for buildings, electrical appliances, cars and agricultural machinery, ministers concluded.
Governments should set the example by focusing their purchasing power on buying energy efficient goods, equipment and services, they said.
The conclusions came from delegates from over 150 countries at the end of the 9th Special Session of the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) 9th Special Session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Forum.
They are contained in the chairman’s summary which will be sent to the next session of the Commission on Sustainable Development to be held in New York in May.
Klaus Toepfer, UNEP’s Executive Director, said: "Ministers meeting here in the United Arab Emirates have gone to the heart of the most pressing problem facing the planet. And that is energy.”
“The rising demand for energy and the climbing price of fossil fuels has implications for economic growth, for fighting poverty and for the local and global environment. This was firmly reflected in our discussions and will, I sincerely hope, trigger real international action.”
Governments also recognized the greater potential of renewables such as wind and solar power and said that real progress in this field had been made since the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002.
Transfer of clean energy technologies and more creative financial measures that reflect the full costs of the production, consumption and use of different energies formed an important part of the discussions.
The important role of the world’s biggest industry—tourism—for fighting poverty, delivering sustainable development and for helping to conserve vital ecosystems like coral reefs up to forests was also underlined.
But delegates also acknowledged that insensitive tourism and leisure developments can severely impact the environment and harm the social and cultural identities of those living in or near such developments.
Many called for better research on ‘carrying capacity’ – the level of visitors that a given location can take without compromising the environment, so as to better plan tourism projects.
Others stressed the link between changes in the climate and tourism and suggested greater efforts by given to more efficient public transport systems at resorts as one way of reducing greenhouse gases.
They also called for improved disaster preparedness in vulnerable tourist destinations – developed in cooperation with local authorities.
In a speech at the end of the meeting, Mr. Toepfer thanked the government and people of the United Arab Emirates and Dubai for successfully hosting the gathering.
“I have already said that this great city of Dubai has become a cross roads, where east meets west and north meets south.”
“The 9th Special Session of the GC/GMEF meets at another important cross- roads—where environment meets economics. Where the urgency of balancing development with the Earth’s life support systems is being finally heard."
“Where developed, developing and rapidly developing economies know that environmental degradation is THE bottleneck for economic development."
“Where the environment is losing its silk scarf image. Where it is understood that it is not a luxury, but a prerequisite for fighting poverty,” said Mr. Toepfer.
Notes to Editors
Details of the 9th Special Session of UNEP’s Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum can be found at http://www.unep.org/gc/gcss-ix/
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UNEP News Release 2006/10