UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked Asia-Pacific countries to take steps to ensure efficient use of energy in the backdrop of surging oil prices and the health problems caused by traditional fuels.
"The Asia-Pacific is lagging behind in providing access to energy services," Ban said in a message to the 64th session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific region.
He pointed out that 1.7 billion people in the region rely on traditional biomass fuels and as a result of which it has the largest number of victims of indoor air pollution. Besides, one billion people lack access to electricity.
"The victims are very poor people who have no access to affordable and reliable energy supply to meet their daily requirements," he observed.
With per capita energy consumption more than doubling between 1990 and 2004 in the Asia-Pacific region outpacing the rest of the world, Ban asked the countries to encourage more efficient use of energy.
A study titled Energy Security and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific, which was prepared for the commission, stresses that energy deprivation in the region's developing countries impacts adversely on poverty reduction efforts and impedes the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The report warned that the Asia-Pacific cannot rely on continuing increases in its energy supply to spur its economic growth. If the region's energy needs continue growing at the current rate, it will account for half of the world's energy demand by 2030, it said.