After two weeks of negotiations, the COP21 summit in Paris ended in a historical agreement under which rich countries, developing economies and even some of the poorest countries would work together to curb emissions and push for more renewable energy investment.
The Paris Agreement sets a goal of limiting global warming below 2 degrees Celsius and pushes even further to try to keep temperatures at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. It incorporates commitments from 187 countries to reduce emissions, which on their own would only hold warming to between 2.7 and 3 degrees Celsius.
However, it also holds a pledge on climate funding of USD 100 billion (EUR 90.7bn) per year for developing nations by 2020 and five-year reviews of progress.
The necessity to align economic growth strategies with climate change mitigation brings a fresh perspective into investment in renewables.
The energy sector accounts for more than two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore it makes perfect sense to look in that direction when searching for faster solutions to curb emissions.
So far, it was always assumed that developing countries would industrialise using fossil fuels. The sustained development and growing maturity of renewable energy technologies over the last decade, especially wind and solar, have changed that view for good.
The very political agreement coined at COP21 in Paris was made possible by the steep decrease in costs for different renewable energy technologies since the Copenhagen COP, back in 2009.
Today, it is no longer assumed that emerging economies cannot leapfrog the fossil fuel era. In fact, economic development fueled by renewable energy and accompanied by increasing energy efficiency, is not only the most effective way to limit global temperature rise, it is the most sustainable path to improving standard of living around the globe. Business leaders have already realised that and besides country pledges, a series of business-led initiatives were announced at COP21 to spell a brighter future for clean power technologies.
Here is a review of the most prominent renewable energy related pledges made at the COP21 summit.
39 French companies pledge EUR 45 billion to renewable energy till 2020
Just a few days before the opening of the COP21 climate conference in Paris, 39 French companies announced a joint pledge to invest some EUR 45 billion in renewable energy and low-carbon technologies over the next five years. Accor, BNP Paribas, Socoete Generale, EDF, Total, Saint-Gobain, Orange and Michelin are some of the companies signing the pledge for contribution in the fight against climate change.
"It is a commitment to a low-carbon economy, and these are all new funds that will be invested," the CEO of Total, Patrick Pouyanne, said at a joint news conference. "Total intends to invest more than EUR 4 billion between 2016 and 2020, particularly in solar, but also in bio energy," he added.
The companies said they also plan to provide bank and bond financing of at least EUR 80 billion for other climate change related projects.
Six multinational companies pledge to use 100% renewable energy
BMW Group, Coca-Cola Enterprises, International Flavors & Fragrances Inc (IFF), Nordea Bank AB, Pearson PLC and Swiss Post recently announced they will source 100% of their electricity from renewable sources.
The collaborative business initiative RE100 now counts 53 companies whose 100% powered-by-renewables target is estimated to create demand for 90.1 TWh of renewable electricity. That’s around 0.4% of global electricity or 1% of the electricity used by industry.
“Our analysis of the private sector’s electricity consumption and carbon emissions indicated that a switch to power from renewable sources could cut global CO2 [carbon dioxide] by nearly 15%," said Emily Farnworth, RE100 Campaign Director.
Cities from around the world embrace 100% renewable goal
On the sidelines of the official talks at the COP21 conference in Paris on Friday, 700 mayors from around the world committed to a long-term goal of going 100% renewable.
The signatories to the December 8 declaration have committed to "support ambitious long-term climate goals such as a transition to 100% renewable energy in our communities, or a 80% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2050." They pledged to advance and exceed the expected goals of the agreement to be reached at COP21.
The cities attending the event include Rio de Janeiro, London, Berlin, Bordeaux, Copenhagen, Milan, Athens, Sydney, Seoul, New Delhi, Beijing, Chicago, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Montreal and many others.
India, France unveil global effort to spur USD 1 trillion in solar investments
India and France launched an initiative seeking to mobilise USD 1 trillion for the deployment of solar energy mainly in sunlit developing countries. Unveiled on December 1, the International Solar Alliance, includes around 120 countries that share "a vision to bring clean, affordable and renewable energy within the reach of all."
They will work to mobilise more than USD 1 trillion of investments that are needed by 2030 for the large-scale deployment of affordable solar through innovative policies, projects, programmes, capacity building measures and financial instruments, the document says.
India, which has a target of adding 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022, will host the initiative at its National Institute of Solar Energy and will provide USD 30 million to build the related infrastructure.
The Breakthrough Energy Coalition launched at the UN climate summit in Paris.
It involves more than 25 investors from 10 countries, among whom Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Indian businessman Mukesh Ambani, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, UK investor Richard Branson and Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma. The coalition will support companies in bringing clean-energy ideas out of the lab and into the market.
The Breakthrough Energy Coalition will work alongside Mission Innovation, an initiative grouping 20 governments, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Germany, the UK, the UAE and the USA, which have pledged to double investment in clean energy innovation over the next five years.
(USD 1 = EUR 0.907)
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