Coal-fired power plants generated 9 billion tons of carbon emissions worldwide in 2020, representing 26% of global carbon emissions and nearly three-quarters of emissions from the electricity sector. Most coal-fired power capacity is in developing countries, where coal dependency remains high. Many developing countries have limited fiscal capacity and so require support to phase out and replace coal-fired power with clean, affordable, and reliable electricity and to provide a just transition for affected workers and communities.
Members from three platforms of the World Economic Forum – the Sustainable Development Investment Partnership (SDIP), the Platform for Shaping the Future of Energy, Materials and Infrastructure, and the Civil Society Community – are launching the Principles for Financing a Just and Urgent Energy Transition (“JUET Principles”), an initiative to help mobilize investment and accelerate financing for a just energy transition in developing countries.
This initiative consists of eight principles designed to guide investment and financing decisions and facilitate collaboration among stakeholders across the energy transition ecosystem, including governments, businesses, financial institutions, philanthropies, and groups representing labour, civil society, and the environment.
The principles address the economic, development, social, and environmental dimensions of a just energy transition. Alongside these principles is a “call to action” to the Parties at COP26, which aims to highlight and galvanize support for key actions and decisions needed from governments to enable and help fund the energy transition.
The JUET Principles have already been endorsed by 6 organizations across the private sector and civil society, including HSBC, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), Prudential plc, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
“Energy transition is not just about adding more renewables to the grid. It’s much more than that,” said Mr Allard Nooy, CEO of InfraCo Asia. Also critical are the transition plans, supporting infrastructure (e.g., grids), and complementary strategies (e.g., energy efficiency) needed to enable the phase out and replacement of coal-fired power with clean, affordable, and reliable electricity. The route to net zero requires a level of urgency from all stakeholders. We have no time to waste.”
“We are in a race against time for people and the planet, and energy transition is the foundation for climate stability. This transition is urgent,” said Ms Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of International Trade Union Confederation, “but it must also have the support of workers and their communities which requires just transition. The JUET principles are a sound basis for action.”
“We are a business focused exclusively on markets in Asia and Africa, many of which need to stimulate and grow their economies after suffering disproportionately from the effects of Covid while also ensuring energy security and a transition to low-carbon alternatives,” said Mr Mark FitzPatrick, Group Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer at Prudential plc. “People and governments from the middle- and higher-income international community can support these goals, through funding, technology transfer and capacity building. We hope that the Principles will help to motivate public and private actors to create an environment which delivers a just and inclusive energy transition which benefits us all.”
“The Principles aim to accelerate funding and collaboration which are both key in achieving a Just and Urgent Energy Transition,” said Mr Yoshiaki Kageyama, Managing Executive Officer & Co-Head of Asia Pacific at SMBC. “The Principles are in line with our aim to contribute to resolving environmental issues described in the SMBC Group Statement on Sustainability, and we are looking forward to working together”
“We welcome this commitment from private financial institutions to help prepare and implement just and urgent energy transitions, and we look forward to concrete policies from institutions and investors to reflect the JUET principles,” said Mr Dean Cooper, Global Lead – Energy Transition, Climate and Energy Practice at WWF. “Support from financiers for ambitious, 1.5C-aligned policies is critical; only with cooperative and consistent action across all sectors and transitions can we achieve a just energy transformation globally”
“Addressing the climate crisis will require innovation – not just in technology, but in the way we work together to solve common problems. These shared principles should underpin efforts towards a just and inclusive transition, across both public and private organisations, to create real impact,” said Mr Christian Deseglise, Managing Director of Sustainable Finance and Investments at HSBC. At HSBC we’re mobilising finance to support our customers’ transitions to net zero, accelerating innovation to help scale up climate solutions and building global partnerships to ensure investment is swiftly channelled towards truly sustainable projects.”
The JUET Principles will be presented and discussed at COP26 during the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) event A vision for “Just Energy Transformation” worldwide, and the impact on ambition on 4 Nov.
The World Economic Forum invites stakeholders from across the energy transition ecosystem to support the JUET Principles and demonstrate a higher level of leadership and ambition for a just energy transition in developing countries. By working together, stakeholders can create economic, social, and environmental benefits for people while helping safeguard the planet for future generations.
Colombia’s energy districts: an example for the region
An energy district is a local institution that leads, implements and accelerates a locally-owned, inclusive and clean energy transition. In the process, energy districts create local jobs and retain and grow wealth, while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions and air pollution.
Colombia is a pioneer South American country in the promotion of this approach. Beginning in 2013, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), together with Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), has been implementing an energy districts project in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (Minambiente) and the public utility of the city of Medellín (Empresas Publicas de Medellín – EPM).
In its second phase, beginning in 2019, the project has been working closely with national and city-level authorities and stakeholders to improve and implement national and sub-national policy and regulatory frameworks to promote further development of energy districts; reinforce knowledge and capacities for energy districts of all market players; and provide technical assistance to some 10 selected cities so that they can include energy districts in their urban planning and support the realization of two-three near-future mature projects.
From the 17-19 November, the UNIDO project and partners, ACAIRE (Colombian Association for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning) and CIDARE, the Centre of Research and Development in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration hosted the Third International Conference for Energy Districts, a virtual event bringing together national and international experts from industry and academia, and representatives from the public sector and international organizations.
Carlos Eduardo Correa, Colombia’sMinister of Environment and Sustainable Development, stated that the conference was the ideal scenario to show the achievements of the country in the implementation of district energy as a contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals.
“All of our actions, plans, projects and regulations, are geared towards the achievements of the Nationally Determined Contributions, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and, at the same time, the contribution of low-carbon development. Here, Colombia has an important experience and is an example for the region,” he stated.
The progress of district energy in Colombia and the region, the importance of their implementation in urban planning, energy maps and clean energy transition, the mechanisms to finance these projects and the use of renewable energies in their execution, were some of the main topics addressed by more than 30 national and international speakers during the three days of discussions.
“The implementation of the project has, as a main component, the sustainability of knowledge and capacities in Colombia. That is why the support and work with academia are fundamental to strengthen the capacities of all the actors in the value chain and promote the education of professionals in the areas of sustainability and energy efficiency, among others,” noted Alex Saer, Director of Climate Change and Risk Management at the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development.
The conference was also the opportunity to celebrate the awards of the Second Competition for Universities in District Energy, with the objective of designing a business model for the sale of thermal energy applied to residential users.
The contest, which had the participation of eight universities from Colombia, awarded the first-place winner team with fully funded attendance to the International District Energy Association Campus Energy in Boston in February 2022.
Global energy efficiency progress is recovering – but not quickly enough
A rapid expansion of technologies and solutions that drive more efficient use of energy across the economy is necessary to keep global climate pledges within reach, according to a new IEA report, which urges governments to take the lead in mobilising the required increase in investment.
Global progress on energy efficiency has recovered this year to its pre-pandemic pace, but that was already well short of what would be needed to help put the world on track to reach net zero emissions by mid-century, according to Energy Efficiency 2021, the IEA’s annual market report on the topic. Total annual investment in energy efficiency worldwide needs to triple by 2030 to be consistent with a path towards reaching net zero emissions by 2050, as set out in the IEA’s Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050.
The IEA’s latest global assessment of market and policy trends in energy efficiency highlights the urgent need for stronger implementation of clean energy policies – with energy efficiency at their core – in order to reach international climate goals. This is the first update of the IEA’s energy efficiency market report since a raft of new spending commitments aimed at supporting the economic recovery were announced by governments over the course of 2021.
The report comes shortly after the end of the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, whose final statement specifically called for the rapid scaling up of energy efficiency measures, recognising their key role in decarbonising energy systems.
“We consider energy efficiency to be the ‘first fuel’ as it still represents the cleanest and, in most cases, the cheapest way to meet our energy needs. There is no plausible pathway to net zero emissions without using our energy resources much more efficiently,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “A step change in energy efficiency will give us a fighting chance of staving off the worst effects of climate change while creating millions of decent jobs and driving down energy bills.”
The report notes that governments have scaled up existing, employment-intensive efficiency programmes, but it also highlights that substantial potential for job creation remains untapped. For example, investments in the energy efficiency of buildings – a well-established driver of construction jobs – are expected to rise by 20% in 2021 compared with pre-pandemic levels. Even with this record level of spending, the report details how 4 million more jobs could be added by 2030 by further increasing spending on efficient buildings, appliances and other measures in line with the IEA’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario.
After its worst year in a decade in 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic shifted the centre of economic activity away from services and towards industry, the rate of improvement in global energy intensity – a key indicator of how efficiently the world’s economic activity uses energy – is expected to recover in 2021 to 1.9%. This is line with the average annual rate of improvement over the past 10 years but well below the 4% needed between 2020 and 2030 in the IEA’s pathway to net zero emissions by 2050.
As energy efficiency offers some of the fastest and most cost-effective actions to reduce CO2 emissions, front-loading efficiency measures into net zero strategies will be crucial for closing the gap between climate ambitions and current trends. This year’s report examines over 40 energy efficiency milestones mapped out in the IEA Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050 that can enhance efficiency and help get emission reductions on track.
In addition to well-developed energy efficiency policies such as appliance standards – which in some countries have avoided electricity usage equivalent to their total wind and solar power generation – the report also underlines the increasingly important role for digital technologies in energy efficiency’s future. Rapid uptake of digitally connected devices is helping to expand the scale and scope of benefits from energy efficiency, and can deliver a cheaper, easier and more cost effective clean energy transition.
Fatih Birol urges Middle Eastern producer economies to accelerate clean energy transition
IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol today received a lifetime achievement award at the major international energy industry conference ADIPEC, which is hosted by the United Arab Emirates. The award was presented by Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change, in recognition of Dr Birol’s long-standing work assessing the global energy sector and providing clarity on how it can adapt to the clean energy transition.
The acknowledgement of Dr Birol’s efforts to advance the clean energy transition comes at a time when the IEA is multiplying its efforts to build a broad coalition to accelerate global climate action that includes the oil and gas exporting countries in the Middle East and North Africa. It also comes after the recent announcement that the United Arab Emirates will host the COP28 Climate Change Conference in 2023, after Egypt hosts COP27 next year.
“I would like to congratulate Fatih Birol on a truly well-deserved recognition of his lifetime’s commitment across the energy landscape. His understanding of how the whole energy system fits together is unparalleled. Moreover, his practical approach to ensuring sustainable development is having – and will continue to have – a positive, powerful impact on how the world makes an equitable and orderly transition to the energy system of the future,” said Sultan Al Jaber in presenting the award to Dr Birol in Abu Dhabi.
“The global warming that is already affecting us all worldwide is especially treacherous for Middle Eastern and North African countries – some are experiencing warming at a far higher rate than the global average. The region is today going through its worst drought in over 900 years,” Dr Birol said in his acceptance speech during the awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi. He underscored the need for oil and gas producing economies to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and rapidly shift towards cleaner alternatives.
“More than at any other point in recent history, fundamental changes to the economic model of resource-rich countries look unavoidable. The future will look very different from the past,” he told the audience. “That is why it is so important that we work together. We need to deploy traditional strengths in support of economic diversification and low-carbon transformation. First movers – countries that take a proactive approach to this – could do especially well.”
In his remarks, Dr Birol highlighted that the IEA’s work with multiple countries across the region centres on supporting efforts to decarbonise energy systems while also securing the economic benefits that the clean energy transition can bring.
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