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Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.
And a special good morning to Dr. Fatih Birol.
I am delighted and honoured to welcome you Sir here in Denmark.
And I can assure you, that the World Energy Outlook has once again been awaited with great anticipation.
I have just returned from meetings with the European parliament in Brussels, flagging the need for pursuing energy efficiency and an ambitious energy policy.
In recent years the IEA flagship publication has communicated the same message.
For centuries the common scale of measurement in Europe was an iron bar placed underneath the roaring cafés and sizzling restaurants along the Seine in Paris.
Today our methods might be different.
But our need for scientific data has not changed or become less important for our outlook and understanding of the world, and for our ability to make informed political decisions.
The World Energy Outlook has become an important benchmark for the international energy and climate change debate.
The IEA has truly become an agent of change.
And the need for change is certainly more urgent than ever.
Right now we are in the midst of a threefold crisis.
A financial crisis.
A resource crisis.
And a climate crisis.
Three crises that are deeply intertwined.
First: What started out as market turmoil, has resulted in a regular Greek tragedy.
Second: The global population hit 7 billion last week.
At the same time we are using far more of our resources than the earth can replenish each year.
Third: We are on a trajectory to a catastrophic 3.5 degree Celsius increase in global temperature.
In fact, if we keep sitting on our hands, the increase will be an unthinkable 6 degrees. Causing irreversible change to our climate.
Concentrations of CO2 have grown by 40 % since pre-industrial times. And energy demand is going through the roof.
That’s why cutting carbon is not a luxury to be ditched when the going gets tough.
It is simply essential to our recovery from the current recession.
At the same time almost one fifth of the earth’s population does not have access to electricity.
This cannot continue.
The UN has announced 2012 to be the 'International Year of Sustainable Energy for All’.
If governments and businesses are willing to invest no more than 3% of total global energy investments per year, universal access to energy can be achieved – with only a minor increase in global CO2 emissions of less than 1 percent.
But as always in hard times, focus is on earning your daily living. Keeping your job. And making ends meet.
Our ability to meet future challenges depends largely on our investment choices and willingness to make long term decisions.
The IEA has pointed out, that the era of cheap oil is over.
Even if the financial crisis has dampened demand, the price of oil is still more than 100 dollars a barrel.
Think about it.
What will the prices be, once the wheels of production return to their normal grind?
To me, the obvious answer is this:
We need to secure clean and sustainable energy.
For the sake of energy security, the global climate and economic resilience.
Many countries are driving full speed down the wrong side of the road.
Last year 400 billion dollars was spent on fossil fuel subsidies on a global scale.
This amounts to 100 billion dollars more than in 2009, where the financial crisis peaked.
If the money spent on subsidies was spent on wind turbines instead, Africa’s electricity production could be covered by wind in just three years.
Fossil fuel subsidies are creating a vicious cycle by raising the global consumption of fossil fuels,
putting a spoke in the wheel of the clean tech industry
and distorting the conditions for more renewables in the energy mix.
That’s why Denmark takes an active part in a reform coalition that tries to convince G20-nations to stop this unfortunate conduct.
But that’s not all.
What we need is a green revolution!
And as the IEA states this calls for a phenomenal global policy push.
The Danish Government is doing what we can at home.
We have decided to reduce the Danish emissions by 40% in 2020 compared to 1990.
We will ensure that half of the consumption of electricity comes from wind turbines in 2020 and that the whole energy system is renewable energy based by 2035.
And we plan to phase out oil, gas and coal entirely by 2050.
Frankly, I’m tired of the typical knee jerk reaction,
that it can’t be done.
It has to be done.
The challenges we face force us to change our way of life.
But they also present us with a major opportunity.
An opportunity to change for the better.
An opportunity we must pursue.
I don’t claim that we can do this at no additional costs.
But if we don’t start the transition now, the costs will only rise.
And that’s why the message of the new World Energy Outlook is, that if we don’t change direction soon, we’ll end up where we’re heading.
The point is:
We are headed for a cliff.
As president Obama once said:
“I don't care whether you're driving a hybrid or an SUV.
If you're headed for a cliff, you have to change direction”.
The work of the IEA is essential to create a comprehensive common understanding of the challenges we face.
Your work constitutes the framework governments around the world base their energy policy on.
You got your serve in.
You give us no excuse.
Now it is up to us to get in the game.
I would like to thank you, Dr. Birol, and the IEA for your important work.
Persistent in your pursuit of knowledge you have unlocked new ways and inspired decision makers around the world.
You are truly a thought leader and an agent of change.
We must change our way of thinking, we must summon the courage to act and we must start the transition now.
As the poet Oliver Wendell Holmes once said:
“The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving”.
Let’s give a warm welcome to Dr. Fatih Birol.