“The climate objectives agreed in Paris require nothing less than the radical decarbonisation of the global economy,” said Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA Director-General, speaking before the start of Energy Day at COP22 on November 11.
“Transitioning rapidly to a future fuelled by renewable energy, combined with improving energy efficiency, is the single most effective way to stave off catastrophic climate change while providing citizens with a better quality of life. But the pace and scale of change needs to dramatically increase if we are to fulfil the promise of the Paris Agreement. Governments need to create the necessary policy and finance frameworks to catalyse a groundswell of initiatives, as the private sector develops its own decarbonisation strategies. This is well within our reach,” the Director-General said.
Energy Day was jointly organized by IRENA and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), in cooperation with the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN) and the Moroccan Agency for Energy Efficiency. It was one of a series of thematic days hosted by “Climate Champions” Minister Hakima El Haite (Morocco) and Laurence Tubiana (France), held under the auspices of the COP22 Presidency. The full programme and speaker’s lineup can be found here.
With COP22 being described as a COP of action and implementation, the focus of Energy Day was on new announcements and commitments aimed at accelerating emissions reductions. A central part of the day’s programme was therefore focused on showcasing the transformative role of renewable energy, and how this helps in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring sustainable energy for all.
Announcements and commitments on renewable energy over the course of the day included:
Dalmia Cement and Helvetia publicly committed to use 100% renewable power across their operations, and announced they were joining the RE100 Together, RE100 companies are collectively creating over 100TWh of demand for renewable electricity – more than enough to power Morocco three times over.
Kevin Rabinovitch, Global Sustainability Director for Mars, announced that they had signed a contract to power their operations in Mexico with 100% renewables, to be completed in mid-2017.
Bill Weihl, Director of Sustainability at Facebook talked about a new private-sector led initiative – the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA). REBA helps make the connections between corporate electricity demand and renewable energy supply. He pointed out that corporate demand for renewable energy was going to play an increasingly important role in the energy transition.
Under the auspices of IRENA’s SIDS Lighthouses Initiative, it was announced that 19 renewable energy projects in the Caribbean had been registered on the Sustainable Energy Marketplace web platform, representing an investment volume of $1 billion. Two island States, Antigua and Barbuda and Cabo Verde, had been selected to receive funding from the IRENA/ ADFD Project Facility and other co-financiers for a total of $45 million. In addition the UAE had recently announced $50 million for renewable energy projects in the Caribbean States.
The African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) launched in Paris last year, announced that 240 projects had been identified for funding, and that the next step is to bring in public and private investors to support the realization of those projects.
Perhaps the key take away from the day can be summed up in a comment from Bill Weihl of Facebook: “We are reaching the point where we shouldn’t be asking ‘why am I doing this’ but ‘why am I not doing this?’”