We know of course that a country’s model of economic development is closely related to its energy options: unless energy is available, it is impossible to envisage any development of production, be it industrial or agricultural, or of services; and social development would itself be seriously jeopardized.
For this reason, we think that it is impossible to think about international strategies and the energy needs of developing countries in isolation from the economic and social model to which they refer. And it is just as abstract to make choices about energy options without assessing the actual energy resources available to a country.
In the past 20 years, many countries traditionally seen as developing countries have begun sustained development by establishing an economic model and choosing an energy option (consider, for instance, Asian economies, China or India, as well as certain Latin American countries or South Africa today). Other countries have not succeeded in overcoming underdevelopment, and their generally low energy consumption reflect this reality.
This is also why almost one quarter of development aid from international, multilateral or national agencies (even non-government ones) involves projects in the energy industry or is destined for energy-related operations in one way or another.
In today’s world, energy is inevitably tied to climate and the environment. We all know the reasons, and there is certainly no need to go into them. We should, though, say that our organization has long supported the concept of “sustainable development” to which the Kyoto commitments on controlling atmospheric emissions are directly related.
We consider that “sustainable development” is the only way to guarantee that all inhabitants of this planet, both now and in generations to come, have access to the physical and environmental resources needed to provide acceptable living conditions without degrading the ecosystem and without irreversibly impoverishing the planet’s resources.
This involves a choice of strategic objectives that can combine competition and employment, the environment and solidarity.
Therefore, we need a new vision for society and a new system for regulating the market economy.
Sustainable development must meet these objectives, but it must also be validated by the union on the basis of the results obtained with respect to employment.
In our opinion, the quality of development and the quality of work are two issues that are closely related, and the challenge is to manage development and the environment harmoniously.
Without this framework, global competitiveness is unsustainable.
We realize that these remarks are today in sharp contrast to the way the economy is managed and the predominant organization of society, and we also realize that there are contradictions between the cultural values and social behaviour of many populations, in particular in regions with more advanced economies. But we also believe that unless closer attention is paid to the conditions of sustainable development, i.e., the conditions for producing and using energy in a way that is compatible with the ecosystem, we run the risk of dilapidating our endowment of energy and environmental resources, jeopardizing the future of generations to come and perpetuating a situation of severe global imbalance between rich countries and developing countries in their access to energy.
The Kyoto Conference bound the countries that signed on, and in particular the most powerful industrial countries, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% in relation to 1990; to improve energy efficiency by renovating facilities for the production and end-use of energy, both in countries with economies in transition and in developing countries; and finally, to establish a new policy for managing energy demands.
Hence the need for energy strategies to rely as much as possible on the territory’s capacity to supply the energy that it needs. The territory is therefore one of the resources to which the energy system must correspond, with energy transmitted or transported for shorter distances than in the past.
Such a system calls for extensive development of renewable energy sources (hydroelectric, wind, solar, geothermal), the recovery of energy from waste and the use of the gasification of coal and other fossil fuels. We consider as well that special attention should be paid to the development and use of hydrogen, which could in the medium term constitute a real alternative to oil.
We do not think that such a system offers the conditions, in terms of safe technology, for reviving nuclear fission, to which we are still opposed.
The duty of developed countries must be to promote the most advanced technologies by exchanging them with the countries that produce raw materials.
In this vein, it is crucial to have an instrument of international co-operation aimed at improving the effectiveness of work with developing countries. In this work, training and information about new technologies and negative consequences for the environment should be priorities.
But it is still necessary to eliminate the practical obstacles that on the one hand prevent the introduction of new forms of energy, and particularly energy from renewable sources, in developing countries, and on the other hand to promote the dissemination of international development aid aimed at achieving greater energy efficiency in both production and end use.
The Fnle-Cgil is committed to this policy, and wishes to discuss it at the international level with other union organizations.
Thank you for listening.