Renewable energy and energy efficiency can unlock climate solution, with rapid shift

Energy transformation mitigates climate change, increases energy access, and meets global sustainable development goals

The energy sector, accounting for more than two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions, must be at the heart of any effort to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius. An energy transition is underway worldwide. With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goal 7 on energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy access, the international community set itself a clear roadmap towards a clean energy, sustainable future.  The Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) focus on energy showcased that implementation across the board is underway.  Partnerships and initiatives are raising the ambition to scale up renewable energy and energy efficiency action until it is enough to meet the global climate objectives, while making sure that no one is left behind.

At Paris, on 7 December:

Ms Segolène Royal, Minister of environment, sustainable development, and energy, France called for an “energy shift“. Ms. Rachel Kyte (CEO of SE4All) underlined: “we cannot get under 2°C and we cannot leave no one behind without a driving momentum in energy transition”. M. Adnan Z. Amin, (Director-General, of IRENA) released, quoting REThinking report, that RE investments must grow immediately and must almost double to USD 500 billion annually between now and 2020,

i) A profound renewable dynamic is spreading to all countries in the world, with regions working to leapfrog to clean energy

The business case for renewable energy has never been stronger. Renewables are now the most cost-competitive source of power in many parts of the world and renewable power accounted for more than half of all capacity additions in the global power sector since 2011. Actions on these fronts are well underway as highlighted by the announcements featured.

Several initiatives are launched at the COP and LPAA Energy day, to accelerate this dynamic:

  • The Global Geothermal Alliance (GGA), launched today, is set to achieve a 500% increase in global installed capacity for geothermal power generation and a 200% increase for geothermal heating by 2030. The world contains vast geothermal energy potential, proven across nearly 90 countries. But almost 90% of this remains untapped with roughly 12 GW installed so far. What was an idea just over a year ago, the GGA is now a strong partnership of over 40 countries and institutions (including IRENA, France, Iceland Kenya, New-Zealand) with the action plan in place to meet the set goal.

M. Olafur Ragnar Grimson, President of Island, highlighted that his country is now 100%RE thanks to Geothermal, and added that “it is not only about energy: it is a question of society and economic development”. Ms Judy Wakhungu , Minister of environment, Kenya, announced that geothermal energy should reach 5 GW capacity in her country by 2030, and thus decrease the electricity cost by 40%.

  • India elaborated on its recently launched International Solar Alliance (ISA). M. Shri Prakash Javadekar, Minister of environment, recalled that ISA aims at aligning countries with the abundant solar potential to“undertake innovative and consolidated efforts for reducing cost of finance and cost of technology for the immediate deployment of solar energy”. With the focus on accelerating the deployment of solar energy in developing countries,“deployment of solar energy is the real issue”. The Alliance will work to meet the multiple objectives of access, economic prosperity and sustainable growth. To date, “1,1 million houses in India are already getting electricity from solar energy” The transformation potential of the Alliance lies in its prospective membership of over 120 countries between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.  “India considers the Lima-Paris Action Agenda as an important initiative,” said Mr Javadekar.

Africa launched a 300 GW Renewable initiative, backed by regional approaches:

  • The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) that gathers 54 African States  announced its ambitious plans for deployment of renewable energy in Africa: to build at least 10 GW of new and additional renewable energy generation capacity by 2020 and 300 GW by 2030. G7, UE and member States have pledged during this event to contribute 10 billion USD by 2020 in the way of support : France committed to invest 2 billion over the period from 2016 to 2020, Germany 3 billion, Sweden USD 1 billion over the next 10 years, and Canada USD 150 million to develop innovative public private partnerships. Considering that current total electricity generation in Africa is roughly 150GW, this is a massive contribution to the climate change effort by the region. The Energy Day featured the forging of a range of partnerships to help meet this ambition.

Khaled Fahmy, Minister of environment, Egypt, stated that “we need energy for development and renewable energy for sustainable development” in Africa when 2 out of 3 Africans don’t have access to energy.

Laurent Fabius, President of the COP 21 affirmed that “access to lighting is a new human right ” and recalled France’s finance commitment, recognizing the success of this initiative: “the COP21 dynamism has enabled new initiatives. The African Renewables Energy Initiative is a striking example“.

  • The Africa Clean Energy Corridor demonstrates progress and announces the beginning of similar work in the West Africa power pool. Clean Energy Corridors are regional platforms to accelerate deployment of renewable energy in the wider region thanks to economy of scale and optimization of resources. Regional planning, capacity building, convergence of regulation and tapping into and connecting the best potentials are at the heart of these partnerships. Combined electricity demand in the Eastern Africa and Southern African power pools could exceed 1000 terawatt-hours by 2030 – more than double their 2010 power consumption. Renewable energy can help meet this rising demand and drive Africa’s rapid economic growth without adding to global climate risks.

Existing initiative are speeding-up to deliver project on the ground:

  • On islands, the Small Islands Developing States Lighthouses Initiative (SIDS Lighthouses Initiative) announced that Saint Lucia is the 29th island to join the initiative. Since its launch in September 2014 the Initiative, which aims at facilitating the up-take of renewables in islands, has made significant strides in meeting its set objectives. 18 small islands have developed their roadmaps for deployment of renewable energy and other early successes include the mobilisation of USD 150 million in financing, and the deployment of 18 MW of renewable energy. Development of bankable projects is one of the major barriers and a new pilot project development facility is being announced based on the experience of the pilot phase.

Three emerging initiatives for renewable energy were disclosed at COP21, two emphasing the Water-Energy nexus

  • Better Hydro, Better Climate: The initiative presented by M. Børge Brende, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway aims at promoting the case for Sustainable Multipurpose Hydro in the age of climate change.
  • Breakthrough in second generation bio-fuels: Enter 2nd-gen ethanol (E2G) offers an environmentally-friendly alternative for fuel, explained Luciano Coutinho, president of the Brazilian Development Bank.

–          Global Clean Water Desalination Alliance – H20 minus CO2, was announced on 5 December at COP21 and aims at reducing CO2 emissions from water desalination, a currently high energy and carbon intensive process.

ii) No one should be left behind: boosting strategies and finance for access to sustainable energy

The world currently invests $9 billion a year on energy access, but $ 49.4 billion and more cooperation are needed to achieve universal access.

  • Following those signed at the 2014 Climate Summit and at the 2015 SE4All Forum, 7 new memoranda of understanding on sustainable energy was signed between African countries (Benin, Cameroon, Indian Ocean Commission, Kenya, Nigeria, Madagascar, Senegal ), the European Union, interested member states (France, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy) and other interested donors like AFD. Together these memoranda will help about 15 countries to introduce policies and measures in support of sustainable energy, using the significant financial and technical support to turn these into major energy transformation initiatives in partner countries.
  • A new cooperative (public and private) Fund, “ElectriFI”, based in European Development Finance Institutions, was launched by Commissioner Mimisa with an initial EUR 75 million funding from the EU Commission. It aims at facilitating private investment in clean energy technologies. Support to first projects will be decided early next year. A partnership between the US and the EU will contribute USD 10 millions.

Several initiatives underscore the private mobilisation for energy access.

M. Mahmood Malik, CEO, IDCOL recalled that Bangladesh is world leader for solar home systems. IDCOL has already equipped 4 millions households and wishes to do a lot more.

Ms Radha Muthiah, CEO, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, underlined that the first cause of death in Africa for women is traditional cookstoves – “we must find clean and renewable solutions for cooking technologies”. This five-year-old alliance, gathering to date 1,300 partners, contributed to installing 28 million cookstoves by the end of 2014, overshooting its target. The Alliance is now aiming at 100 million clean cookstoves in 2020.

M. Harry Verhaar, CEO, Global Off Grid Lighting Alliance, announced the launch of a new initiative gathering large corporations and start-ups to coordinate their action to enable energy access for more than 100 millions persons by 2020.

iii) Champions are emerging everywhere to lead the way toward 100% renewable energy and high energy efficiency

  • Countries, regions, cities and companies are going 100% renewable. 53 companies have now committed to be 100 per cent powered by renewables under the RE100 initiative, which will create demand for 90.1 TWh of renewable electricity. That is more than enough to power Hong Kong and Singapore combined. The switch would save around 56Mt of CO2 every year – broadly the same as Morocco’s emissions. Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 aims at providing 7 per cent of Dubai’s energy from clean energy sources by 2020. It will increase this target to 25 per cent by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2050.At the Cities’ Summit held on the 4th of December, many mayors made the commitment to be 100% renewable in 2050, representing a several GtCO2 reduction of emissions.
  • Hundreds of governments, businesses and financial institutions pledged major action on energy efficiency at COP 21, recognizing it as the basis of the energy transition. The mobilisation of all actors around energy efficiency is gaining traction because it delivers significant economic and environmental gains: 

–          Some 775 companies from 33 countries, more than 130 national, regional and local governments and over 100 financial institutions are committing to ramping up energy efficiency measures and investments under the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative’s ‘100/100/100’ campaign.

–          Of these, 75 companies have made specific commitments to increase their energy efficiency in action that will save up to 62 TWh over the next five years.

iv) Quick-win energy efficiency opportunities are starting to be implemented at scale

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General emphasized that “energy efficiency is our best tool to reduce CO2 emissions”. Gathered under the umbrella the SE4All’s Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform, six growing coalitions are moving the global norm toward more efficient products and energy systems:

  • Through the En.Lighten and Clean Energy Ministerial Global Lighting Challenge, more than 70 countries have agreed to phase out incandescent bulbs and promote the most efficient lighting technologies such as LEDs. These two large partnerships are creating a profound transformation of the lightning sector, pushing the old technologies out of the market. The energy and GHG saving potential of this one single technology are huge, with the potential to reduce by half the energy demand from lightning – representing 15% of total electricity consumption and 5% of GHG emissions. Several examples were highlighted. Sweden aims to halve the energy consumption of its lighting, which represents 10% of its electricity demand. India has, thanks to a strong purchasing policy, succeeded in dividing by 6 the price of LEDs.

Building on Global Lighting and Energy Access Partnership M. Moniz, Secretary of Energy, US announced a join effort with se4all with “Energy for access” coalition (E4A) that could link efficiency and access and “catalyse the off grid market”.

  • With United for Efficiency (U4E), 18 countries, are committing to ambitious policies for efficient electrical appliances (e.g. air conditioning and refrigerators). These are some of the most impactful measures that can be takenThe new GEF program, “Leapfrogging Markets to High Efficiency Products”, led by UNEP, will complement and expand this first step with the means to support an additional 70 more countries.
  • More than 60 countries are joining the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) to implement public policies for vehicle energy efficiency aimed at halving average consumption by 2050.
  • 21 countries and more than 60 partners have launched the Alliance for Building and Construction during the first ever Building Focus. It will offer new opportunities to reduce energy consumption in this sector. In support of this global mobilization, USD 2 million have been granted by the Global Environment Facility through the Building Efficiency Accelerator. Partners of the Alliancewill help develop projects in 30 new cities, with measures such as retrofits and improved building codes. The District Energy Systems Efficiency Accelerator will facilitate the adoption of district energy systems with technologies including waste heat recovery.
  • Two large scale pilots will be launched in China and India through the Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator that will result in concrete emission reductions from the industry sector in the time-frame 2016-2020. 

Ajay Mathur, Director General of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency highlighted that India has implemented obligatory energy consumption reduction targets for major industry sites. Target setting is an efficient way to progress in industry.

v) More and more financial institutions are committing to better financing of the energy transition

  • 106 banks from 42 countries with a financial capacity of USD 250 billion and a group of Investors, managing close to US$ 4 trillion in assets, have committed to a major increase in energy efficiency lending in their portfolios. Lead by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the UNEP Finance Initiative, this is a major undertaking toward the four-fold increase needed to realize the full energy efficiency potential for climate change.

Geeta Aiyer, CEO and founder, Boston Common Asset Management, stated that key elements to raise investment in energy efficiency, are “standardisation and certification”, supported by accurate indicators. Ebru Dildar Edim, VP, Garanti Bank, underlined the need to associate local banks to finance energy efficiency measures.

  • Sustainable Energy Marketplace was officially launched during the LPAA Focus. It is dedicated to facilitate and reduce the cost of transaction for renewable projects, starting with the African and the Latin-America platforms. It is a matchmaking platform providing renewable energy projects and investors a simple way to connect. The Marketplace expects to house 100 projects by the beginning of 2016, and to mobilize 10 billion in project financing over the next 3 years. It will thus contribute to the doubling of annual investments needed to meet climate objectives.


The Lima-Paris Action Agenda is a joint undertaking of the Peruvian and French COP presidencies, the Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the UNFCCC Secretariat. It aims to strengthen climate action throughout 2015, in Paris in December and well beyond by: mobilizing robust global action towards low carbon and resilient societies; providing enhanced support to existing initiatives, such as those launched during the NY SG Climate summit in September 2014; and mobilizing new partners and providing a platform for the visibility of their actions, commitments and results in the run up to COP21 and after. Learn more at


Diane Gaillard – LPAA Press Officer: +33 6 99 62 49 79 |

Hillary McBride – International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) – +971 56 410 3572

Gill Tudor, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), +43 699 145 83404,

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