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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2013

High Level Segment of the Economic and Social Council Implementation Forum Geneva

New Zealand: Promoting renewable energy in the Pacific: HE Jim McLay, New Zealand Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York - 3 July 2013

New Zealand is a world leader in renewable energy; over 70 percent of our electricity is generated from renewable sources – one of the highest in the world.

So it's not surprising that delivering practical, renewable energy solutions to address both climate change and energy security is one of our highest development priorities in our own Pacific region. 

Pacific Island countries have abundant renewable energy resources, including solar and wind; but expensive fossil fuels still meet over 80 percent of electricity needs.

Against a background set by the Secretary General's Sustainable Energy for Allinitiative, and the regional commitment of Pacific Island leaders to attain 50 percent renewable energy by 2020, in March 2013, New Zealand and the European Union (EU) hosted a Pacific Energy Summit.

That three day event brought together donors, governments and businesses, all committed to combining capital and modern technologies into scalable solutions for sustainable energy development.

In short, Mr President: We had Pacific leaders, their energy roadmaps, and 79 renewable energy and energy_efficiency projects all together, in the one room as major donors - a true sustainable energy love-fest.

To encourage prompt investment decisions we published a prospectus detailing each of the investment opportunities.

And it worked!; we left that room with commitments totaling US$500 million for more than forty renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects in the Pacific region.

On Monday, the Director General of CERN spoke of the positive potential of disruptive technologies, and the importance of underpinning these with the right kind of knowledge transfer through people; and it was following similar thinking that the Pacific Energy Summit Partners incorporated capacity building into their support for renewable technologies. 

For example:  In Tonga, which now boasts the largest solar array in the Pacific, a public-private partnership with New Zealand's Meridien Energy delivers on-going training of local expertise to ensure long-term local ownership and sustainability.

New Zealand itself committed NZ$65 million to eighteen projects in six Pacific countries. 

In so doing, we are building on the success of the Tokelau Renewable Energy Project of three, solar-based mini-grids on each of Tokelau’s main atolls. 

This world-first project took Tokelau from 100 per cent reliance on expensive, imported diesel just two years ago to meeting over 95 per cent of its electricity needs from renewables today. 

In Samoa, in a public-private partnership, New Zealand supports research into bio-diesel; and, in the Cook Islands, along with Japan and China, we are building small-scale solar solutions on a number of atolls.

Delivered diesel fuel is more expensive in the Pacific than anywhere else in the world; so, reducing that dependence will save money for its governments, provide greater access to modern energy services for its peoples and businesses, and improve its environmental outcomes.

And we aren't limited to innovative ways of attracting investment funds.

There's a wonderful story to be told about school students responding in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake, when phones couldn't be charged, and developing a solar-powered charger now used in the Pacific and in parts of rural Tanzania which lack electricity.

In short, Mr President, innovation can power a charger and can power a project.

Particularly, the Pacific Energy Summit provides a model for other regions which seek to turn ambitious renewable energy goals into reality, through a combination of collaboration, innovative thinking, and technological expertise; and I commend this example to you for use in other parts of the world.

For more information on the Pacific Energy Summit visit: www.aid.govt.nz

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Page last updated: Wednesday, 18 September 2013 15:55 NZST