Energy Day blends optimism and caution on climate and energy access

Nov 11, 2017, BONN, Germany – As part of the UNFCCC’s Global Climate Action series, Energy Day took place yesterday at COP23, highlighting the success stories and challenges on the path towards a clean, efficient, sustainable energy future.

Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) hosted the opening session of Energy Day – entitled State of Play - which left no doubt that the clean energy transformation is moving forward faster than ever. With speakers from cities and villages in Canada, Nepal and South Africa, to major electric utilities and oil companies across Europe, the conversation showed momentum on renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy access is gaining unprecedented strength. Still, there was strong agreement that bigger, broader efforts will be needed to achieve the ambitions of the Paris Climate Agreement and Sustainability Development Goal 7, which calls for universal access to sustainable energy for all by 2030.

Cheers for Cities: Cities are a hotbed of low-carbon momentum. Vancouver, which is aiming to be the world’s greenest city, has leveraged energy efficiency, clean transportation and other efforts to reduce its per capital carbon footprint to 3.9 tons, half of Toronto’s and a quarter of Calgary’s. And the city’s economy is thriving. “We have by far the strongest economy in Canada,” said Vancouver City Councilor Andrea Reimer, citing a three-fold jump in green jobs.

The City of Tshwane in South Africa is enacting energy efficiency building bylaws, greening its bus fleets and spurring new renewable energy generation to cut its dependency on coal. “Our 600-megawatt coal-based power plant is mostly non-functional now,” said Sello Mphaga, executive director and chief sustainability specialist in the City of Tshwane.

COP23 Energy Day - State of Play: Speaker Panel. Left to Right: Stephen Kukoda, Executive Director, The International Copper Association, Agustin Delgado, Director Of Innovation, Environment And Quality, Iberdrola, Sello Mphaga, Executive Director & Chief Sustainability Specialist, City Of Tshwane, Metropolitan Municipality Of Pretoria, South Africa, David Hone, Chief Climate Change Advisor, Shell, Andrea Reimer, Councillor, Vancouver City Council, Canada, Ram Prasad Dhital, Executive Director Of Alternative Energy Promotions Centre, Nepal.

Private Sector Transformation: Automakers, utilities and oil giants are all feeling pressure to transform their business models for a low-carbon future. Utilities such as Iberdrola have more than 10,000 megawatts of installed renewable capacity today and plans for significantly more in the future. “Nobody would have expected this huge increase in renewable energy generation,” said Augustin Delgado, Director of Innovation, Environment and Quality at the Spanish utility.

Shell is feeling the pressure from all sides, especially as national governments such as China and numerous automakers are embracing electric vehicles and making plans to phase out internal combustion vehicles. One of the ways Shell is responding is by acquiring one of Europe’s largest electric vehicle charging station companies. Still, the company warns that the EV transformation will not happen overnight and that fossil fuels will be around for the foreseeable future. “By the time this is all said and down, we’ll be out to 2050,” said David Hone, Shell’s Chief Climate Change Adviser.

Reaching the Last Mile: The challenge of achieving the Paris climate goals, while also providing clean, affordable energy to remote regions that still lack any electricity, came up time and time again. Ram Prasad Dhital, Executive Director of the Alternative Energy Promotions Centre in Nepal, cited SEforALL’s recent Energizing Finance data showing that energy access development finance spending is going almost entirely to utility-scale projects, not decentralized renewable energy. “(Off-grid renewables) are not getting resources from MDBs (multi-development banks) and development resources,” he said.

Jeff Merkley, Senator, State of Oregon, United States.

Best Quotes of the Day

“We need to leave no fossil fuel workers behind,” U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, Oregon

“We need to stop pretending that we don’t need to manage the decline of fossil fuels,” Tzeporah Berman, Adjunct Professor, York University, Canada.

Energy Day was organized by Sustainable Energy for All with The Climate Group, the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) part of a series of thematic action days held under the auspices of the Marrakech Partnership.

 

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Find out more about what SEforALL announcements and activity at COP23 here, and follow us on Twitter - @SEforALLorg - for the latest updates.