Questions for the Ambassador: Garen Nazarian

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Ambassador Nazarian, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Armenia to the United Nations, answers questions on sustainable energy from students around the globe.

According to the UN report, "1.3 billion people – nearly one in five globally – continue to lack electricity. Forty five percent of the world's population – 3.2 billion people – still rely on wood, charcoal, animal or crop waste or other solid fuels to cook their food and heat their homes". As a UN Ambassador, what haves been your personal contributions to alleviate the issues mentioned above?
Nduka Uzoamaka Chigoziri, Nigeria

To respond to your question, let me share a success story from Armenia. In my mountainous country the winters are long and harsh. Providing sustainable and reliable heat to all residents is a socio-economic challenge. That is why we started focusing on expanding sustainable energy in Armenia and make transformative changes in the lives of citizens. Until recently, residents of one of the rural outskirts of Yerevan, our capital city, had no heating or hot water in their apartments. 

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Reflections: Ed Crooks, US Industry and Energy Editor at the Financial Times

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GEI: What is the impact of US energy independence on global energy security and the market economy?

EC: America's decreasing reliance on energy imports is generally seen in the US as a piece of unqualified good news. Its impacts in terms of strengthening the balance of payments, reducing the country's vulnerability to commodity price shocks, and strengthening ties to trading partners such as Japan and Korea, are undoubtedly positive for the US. More generally, greater diversity in the sources of oil and gas supply coming on to world markets helps bolster global energy security, and cheaper energy is a net stimulus to the world economy as a whole. However, it is possible to envisage effects of the US energy boom that are less favorable. If the US is encouraged to withdraw from global engagement, believing wrongly that "energy independence" means it no longer needs to worry about what happens in the Middle East or other oil-producing regions, then the result could be increased instability. If the flow of US oil and gas on to world markets triggers steep falls in prices, then that could put the economies of countries that are dependent on energy exports under great strain.

Read more: Reflections: Ed Crooks, US Industry and Energy Editor at the Financial Times

Daan Roosegaarde: Reforming Public Spaces through Art and Sustainability

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Daan Roosegaarde is set to become the next artistic hype after Random International's Rain Room, which recently ended its run at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The interactive designer has gained recognition through his glow in the dark "Smart Highway" in the Netherlands and a sustainable dance floor that generates electricity through the act of dancing. Most recently, his social design lab Studio Roosegaarde attracted media attention with plans for an electromagnetic smog vacuum in Beijing.

Roosegaarde's smog vacuum is a radical statement to those who disbelieve that artistry can be interwoven purposefully with science. Public spaces have always been an attraction for Roosegaarde because they serve as a social point for individuals to come together. Beijing presented an additional challenge, given the abominable state of air pollution. Roosegaarde recalls days where he would look from the window of his hotel room, unable to see the surrounding buildings. He describes it as a sad sight, but also an opportunity to utilize technology and reform the social space.

Read more: Daan Roosegaarde: Reforming Public Spaces through Art and Sustainability

Quayle Hodek: from 23-year-old CEO to Respected Leader in Renewable Energy

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The rise to prominence of Renewable Choice Energy follows an unexpected tale of success. Its founder, Quayle Hodek was only 20-years-old when he shocked his parents by deciding to drop out of college at the University of Wisconsin, where he had been attending on a full academic scholarship. Riding on the momentum of the dot-com hype he founded Zoom Culture, a video-sharing social network similar to YouTube. The enterprise collapsed following the dot-com burst, but Hodek wanted to take the lessons from this initial failure to start a meaningful new venture.

Three years later, Hodek combined his fascination with renewable energy and entrepreneurship to start Renewable Choice Energy along with his two closest friends. The concept itself was simple; they believed that given the choice, individuals or companies would be willing to pay a premium for wind energy. However, the political and economic predicament caused by the September 11 attacks presented a challenge for Hodek and his team. Wind energy was also a new and unproven form of energy, creating additional barriers to overcome.

Read more: Quayle Hodek: from 23-year-old CEO to Respected Leader in Renewable Energy


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