Renewable energy solutions to combat climate change and enhance energy security

Paris, 7 December 2015

Foreign Minister Børge Brende's speech at the opening of the Energy Day at the COP21 in Paris, 7 December 2015.

Excellencies, Minister Royal, ladies and gentlemen.

Climate change is having wide-reaching consequences for top priority policy areas such as mass migration, humanitarian assistance and disaster risk reduction.

Climate change has become a question of national and global security. 

And it is closely linked to another major security concern, which is energy security.

Energy production and use account for around two thirds of global CO2 emissions.

At the same time 1.1 billion people still lack access to electricity.

To combat climate change we therefore need to decouple energy growth from CO2 emissions.

We have to move from a carbon intensive to a low-carbon energy path.

It is a transition that entails extensive changes to our energy systems.

And it entails new opportunities for ensuring sustainable development and enhancing our energy security.

If we do it right, increased use of renewable energy sources can replace imports of fossil fuels, create more jobs and cause less transborder movements of energy.

It can reduce the potential for international conflicts.

We are just starting to understand the interaction between low-carbon energy systems and geopolitics.

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In Norway, almost all domestic electricity demand is met through hydropower.

Hydropower started Norway’s process of industrialisation.

It spurred our economy, it created jobs and it ensured our energy security.

Today, Norway is the world’s sixth largest hydropower producer.

Just as hydropower has been crucial for the development of the Norwegian economy, it also has the capacity to transform the economies of many developing countries in the world today.

The potential of hydropower is vast.

In Africa, less than 10 % of the technical potential has been developed.

Utilising the full potential of hydropower can fulfil several purposes:

  • provide a secure supply of electricity
  • balance the production of other renewables, such as wind and solar
  • play a key role in flood control and water management.

In short: multipurpose hydropower can contribute to climate change mitigation, adaptation and sustainable development.

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According to UNEP, a gap of 8–10 gigatonnes CO2 remains to be filled by 2020 if we are to reach the two-degree target.

To narrow this gap, we must redouble our investments in hydropower and other low carbon energy sources.

We must transform our energy systems.

And we must do so in a way that connects the 1.1 billion who currently lack access to electricity, and ensures energy security to growing economies. 

We need an energy transformation that is driven by private and commercial sector investments.

That is supported by governments.

And facilitated by multilateral and bilateral donors.

If there is one message we should take home from Paris, it is that investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency will pay off.

Thank you