Sustainable Energy for a Sustainable Armenia

Oct 5, 2015

Diana Harutyunyan, UNDP expert on climate change issues, presenting the UNDP publication on Green Architecture

A global push for sustainable development

Between the 29th September and 2nd October, Yerevan was home to the International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development. Over 260 energy experts from all around the world came together in what was only the sixth time such a forum had ever been organized. These experts convened around three critical issues, to be achieved by 2030:

-Ensuring universal access to modern energy services;

-Doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency;

-Doubling the share of renewable energy in global energy use.

Energy is such an integral part of our life that we often use it without thinking about its sources, or impacts on the environment. The simple fact is that most energy is generated from burning fossil fuels like coal, gas or oil. As of today, fossil fuels provide around 95 percent of the world’s total energy demand, being used for heating, transport, electricity generation and other uses. Accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, released from the burning of fossil fuel, contributes to global warming and triggers changes in the surrounding environment that, ultimately, could jeopardize the survival of the majority of the planet’s species – including humankind.

This is why clean and affordable energy have become imperatives for the 21st century. This fact was recognised by all of the world’s nations late last month with the adoption of the landmark Sustainable Development Goals. Goal number seven, which all nations are committed to working towards, is to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.

What is Armenia doing?

In Armenia, energy efficiency and renewable energy are important issues: the country needs to alleviate the heavy financial burden imposed by oil imports and increase capacity of existing supplies alongside reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and local pollution.

For Armenia’s citizens, however, many of these issues seem distant and far away – what is most important for Armenian households and businesses is the cost of energy.

Understanding this fact, the government of Armenia has committed to implement the UN Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Initiative, aimed at increasing the share and affordability of renewable energy, promote energy efficiency and energy saving, as well as create an enabling investment climate for clean energy in Armenia. 

In order to ease the country’s external energy dependence, protect future generations, and lower energy costs today, the government is aiming to increase renewable energy generation by 40 percent, as well as reduce the energy intensity of industry, thereby making local industrial goods and production more competitive on international markets.  

Challenges ahead

However, many challenges remain before the energy safety of Armenia is secured. Renewable energy sources account for around only 8 percent of total fuel and energy consumption and only 30 percent of energy generation. Additionally, while the vast majority of Armenian households have access to natural gas as a source for heating and cooking, this access is restricted from parts of the country suffering low-income levels and high poverty rates. In fact, a recent household survey by UNDP shows the increase of families returning to the use of wood for heating purposes.

The Sixth International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development

UNDP in Armenia is showing that renewables are a viable solution to Armenia’s energy concerns – today and in the future. If there are no concerted efforts towards using sustainable forms of energy, greenhouse gas emissions will further contribute to global climate changes and affect those who depend on the natural ecosystems for survival – everyone.

Several days of discussions and knowledge sharing were directed at a range of areas where progress can be made. The Yerevan Statement of Common Action, agreed upon by the participants, noted that: 

Improving energy efficiency and energy productivity are two of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to combat climate change, improve air quality, and reduce energy costs for both businesses and consumers

What can you do?

UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crises, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. As an Armenia citizen, you are a crucial part of this process – UNDP is a potential partner to you too!

If you’d like to get involved or you have an idea related to renewable energy then check out our small grants programme or idea incubator

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