Global leaders announce new efficient energy initiatives

World leaders, including country representatives, the private sector, cities and international organisations have announced three major new initiatives on greening urban energy, the phasing out of oil and gas, and promoting hydrogen as a clean fuel.

The announcement was made during a virtual Energy Action Day, event, which took place ahead of the United Nations (UN) High-Level Dialogue on Energy, aimed to accelerate collective action towards net-zero and climate-resilient energy systems.

The Energy Action Day, which held last week, was jointly hosted by Denmark, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, in her opening remarks, said: “We have less than nine years to go. Nine years to achieve the goal of ensuring clean energy for all. We have no time to waste if we want to keep 1.5 degrees within reach. We have to start today: raise our ambitions, learn from each other and speed up our green efforts. Denmark hosted this Energy Action Day so we can do precisely this.”

Coming ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, the event also saw the launch of the Urban Energy Coalition and the Green Hydrogen Compact Catalogue, and the creation of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) amongst others.

COP26 President Designate, Alok Sharma MP, called on all countries to consign coal to history in Glasgow, by phasing out existing coal power plants, and commit to no new coal power plants, putting an end to international coal financing, instead working to scale up clean power alternatives.

“Ahead of COP26 and at the summit itself, we need governments to make those strong, clear commitments to end polluting coal generation and prioritise clean power. We urge countries to put an end to coal power, by phasing out existing plants, committing not to build any new ones, and putting an end to international coal finance. “And we need all investors, acting on our shared responsibility, to protect our planet. And we need to keep building up the international collaboration, at COP26 and indeed beyond it to accelerate the clean energy revolution over this vital decade,” he stated.

Energy transition

Reiterating energy transition as key to a better future, participants again observed as highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last month that humanity’s continued dependence on fossil fuels is warming the world.

The consequences – such as droughts, wildfires and floods – are already here and will only intensify without action, they said, adding that over 750 million people lack access to electricity and 2.6 billion still cook and heat with wood, charcoal, and other unhealthy fuels.

The Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Inger Andersen, said: “Today, hundreds of millions of people struggle with energy poverty. We must provide everyone with energy equity and connectivity. The IPCC has sounded a code red for humanity. We must urgently and rapidly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions; otherwise the same people will suffer the most on hothouse Earth.”

She added that “The new initiatives announced at Energy Action Day are important steps towards achieving the transition.”

We have less than nine years to go. Nine years to achieve the goal of ensuring clean energy for all. We have no time to waste if we want to keep 1.5 degrees within reach. We have to start today: raise our ambitions, learn from each other and speed up our green efforts.

Green Hydrogen Compact Catalogue

Hydrogen produced with renewable energy can play a key role in energy transition, as a sustainable, carbon neutral fuel. In order to achieve targets of net zero emissions, increasing the uptake of green hydrogen will be critical.

The Green Hydrogen Compact Catalogue is a collection of commitments by a broad range of stakeholders that will contribute to accelerating the development of a green hydrogen ecosystem and value chain.

 By showcasing action, the Catalogue aims to spark dialogue and collaboration among stakeholders and to inspire further commitments. The Catalogue is a result of a broad and inclusive partnership among key countries, international organisations and the private sector.

IRENA’s Director-General, Francesco La Camera, said: “In the coming decade, there are tremendous opportunities in accelerating the energy transition,”  “with co-benefits on energy security, energy access for all, high quality jobs, improved health through clean air and a safe climate. The revolution in the energy sector driven by falling renewable costs is opening new possibilities for end-use and green hydrogen. I am convinced that with today’s announcements, including the Green Hydrogen Compact Catalogue, we will raise ambition and drive collective action under the UN High-Level Dialogue on Energy to ensure all countries and regions can realise the benefits of the global energy transition.”

Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA)

Ministers from Costa Rica and Denmark announced that they are leading the work to create an ambitious Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA), to promote a phased transition away from the unsustainable supply of oil and gas.

“Science has made it clear – the fossil era needs to come to an end. This is why we in Denmark have set an end date for oil and gas production and why Denmark and Costa Rica are building an alliance of countries willing to address the unsustainable supply of oil and gas. Now we urge other governments to join us,” stated Dan Jørgensen, Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities.

“Fossil fuels are, by far, the largest contributor to climate change, accounting for over 75% of all greenhouse gases. Science is clear that it is imperative to limit their supply and set an end for oil and gas production. Almost 20 years ago, Costa Rica took the brave decision to ban oil and gas exploration and exploitation. Now, along with Denmark we are calling other governments to join BOGA and move away from oil and gas”, said Andrea Meza Murillo, Minister for Environment and Energy of Costa Rica.

Urban Energy Coalition

Cities are, in many cases, driving much-needed innovation in the energy system, taking advantage of their unique role as planners and managers of infrastructure to integrate energy systems across buildings, transport, heating/cooling, industry, and power grids. Their actions deliver improved efficiency, circularity and greater use of renewables.

The Urban Energy Coalition was launched by UNEP, the European Commission, Global Covenant of Mayors, World Economic Forum (WEF) and REN21 – with the potential participation of the European Commission through Mission Innovation, to provide a joined-up approach to support cities on energy and innovation.

The goal is to provide cities with practical framework and tools to deploy integrated energy solutions at scale. WEF, a member of the Coalition for Urban Energy, also launched the beta version of the ‘Toolbox of Solutions’ which provides best practice and case studies on clean electrification, efficiency and smart infrastructure across energy, buildings, and mobility.

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