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Address by Minister Žiga Turk at the Athens Summit on Climate Change and Energy Security

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to address you on a topic of immense importance to everyone. At a time of soaring oil and gas prices, public concern regarding our dependence on energy imports and the mounting evidence of global warming give focus to the strategic challenge of the interdependence of climate change and energy security. It is of the utmost importance that energy and climate issues are debated and kept at the top of both global and regional political agendas.

The effects of climate change are being felt right now: temperatures are rising, icecaps and glaciers are melting and extreme weather events are recurring in ever more severe forms. Scientists are also projecting major changes to landmass in the course of this century. Every single country is vulnerable to the effects of climate change. It is therefore important that we meet and exchange ideas and also best practices on how to deal with the challenges before us.


Ladies and gentlemen,

Humanity depends on energy to function. At the same time, high and rising energy consumption continues to increase carbon emissions and triggers the greenhouse effect which underpins inevitable climate change. This dire issue has to be tackled immediately – at local, regional and global levels. The ‘Bali roadmap’ adopted at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali last December includes the key building blocks of a future global agreement: enhanced mitigation of climate change by limiting or reducing emissions, adaptation to climate change, action on technology development and transfer, and scaling up of finance and investment to support mitigation and adaptation. Nevertheless, this is only the first step towards a new global climate regime.

Developed and developing countries have to assume their fair share of responsibility in combating climate change. Industrialised countries account for 75% of the cumulative total of greenhouse gas emissions for the past 150 years, so historically we certainly have a greater share of responsibility for the present-day level of greenhouse gas emissions. Developing countries are experiencing high rates of growth and as a result their greenhouse gas emissions are growing rapidly, but their economies are still unstable and fragile, which hampers extensive investment in new, clean technologies. In view of this, developed countries will need to facilitate the introduction and dissemination of new and clean technologies.

Demographic trends will determine future energy demand. It is, therefore, of great importance that all countries, regardless of their current stage of economic development, cooperate in the debate.


Ladies and gentlemen,

Mitigating climate change globally also depends to a great extent on increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy technologies in all countries.

Investment in energy research and development in the EU is still lagging behind. We should therefore address the challenge of assigning additional resources while also ensuring that we make the best possible use of the financial resources already available. Europe needs a new industrial revolution. Like all industrial revolutions, this one is going to be technology-driven, and it is high time that political vision was transformed into practical action.

All this should be done in combination with improving energy efficiency in conversion processes, in buildings, industry and transport. Because, at the end of the day, improving energy efficiency makes for the cheapest and most renewable fuel of all.

Slovenia welcomes the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) endorsed by the EU Heads of State and Government at the 2008 spring European Council. Its aim is to accelerate innovation in energy technology and, through this ‘technology push’, induce European industry to turn the threats associated with climate change and security of supply into opportunities to increase competitiveness. Let us not forget that R&D cannot be supported by governments alone. Ultimately, it is also the lifeblood of industries that expect to remain relevant and competitive in a changing market.

An energy future based on abundant and clean renewable resources is achievable. The time is ripe for a strong national commitment to enacting new policies. To meet this challenge will require concerted action by governments, businesses, and citizens. Pioneering research and development by both the state and the private sector have yielded a host of promising new technologies that convert abundant domestic energy sources – including solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass, and ocean energy – into transport fuel, electricity and heat. Many of the new technologies that harness renewables are, or soon will be, economically competitive with fossil fuels.

Boosting investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and new technologies contributes to sustainable development and security of supply, and helps create new jobs and promote economic growth, greater competitiveness and rural development. The numerous benefits of renewable energy – in terms of the impact on climate change, security of supply and the long-term economic benefits – are widely accepted.

Like the European Commission, Slovenia believes that a fully liberalised energy market, combined with appropriate mechanisms such as public-private sector partnerships, in which government incentives are matched by private investments or in which governmental incentives can stimulate greater R&D expenditure by the private sector, will ensure an environment favourable to long-term strategic investment in energy infrastructure and energy R&D.


Ladies and gentlemen,

The issue of securing the energy supply by diversifying transport routes and the energy mix also demands due attention. The EU is the second largest energy consumer and the largest energy importer in the world. If present trends continue, the EU will be 90% dependent on imports for its oil requirements and 80% dependent for gas by the year 2030. These figures alone should be sufficient evidence that we need not only to act within the EU to cap and gradually reduce energy demand but also to cultivate and further develop relations with the countries and regions that provide us with our energy resources.

In our efforts to guarantee energy security, Slovenia advocates the diversification of energy suppliers, sources and transit routes.


Ladies and gentlemen,

We know what the task at hand is - we have to slow down global warming without derailing economic development. It will not be easy. It will require joint action and a lot of creative thinking. I trust this declaration is a step in the right direction.

Thank you.


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Date: 07.05.2008