Nations in new $400b commitments on clean energy
• As Nigeria pledges to electrify five million homes by 2023
New multi-billion-dollar commitments to increase renewables, access to electricity and clean cooking technologies were recently announced at a critical UN energy summit aimed at boosting efforts to reduce the ranks of nearly 800 million people living in energy poverty, while setting the world on a trajectory towards net-zero-emissions by 2050.
More than $400 billion in new finance and investment was committed by governments and the private sector during the UN High-level Dialogue on Energy, the first leader-level meeting on energy under the auspices of the UN General Assembly in 40 years.
Over 35 countries — ranging from Small Island Developing States to major emerging and industrialised economies — made significant new energy commitments in the form of energy compacts. Additionally, several new partnership initiatives were announced, aiming to provide and improve access to reliable electricity to over a billion people.
The new commitments would result in large increases in the installed capacity of renewable energy and significant improvements in energy efficiency around the world — leading to hundreds of new renewable energy facilities and the creation of millions of new green jobs.
For instance, Nigeria committed to electrifying 25 million people across five million homes by 2023 using solar technologies and creating 250,000 jobs, and also to giving 30 million homes access to clean cooking and energizing agriculture, textile production and cold storage using gas as a transition fuel.
President Muhammadu Buhari assured that Nigeria is continuing its transition to a low-carbon economy, consistent with achieving the Paris climate agreement and the SDGs.
“We intend to build a climate-resilient economy that effectively aligns with the SDGs and that has great potentials to unlocking the full opportunities in different sectors of the economy while protecting the resources for present and future generations,” he said.
The energy summit took place as world leaders grapple with the critical urgency to keep the 1.5 degrees temperature target of the Paris agreement within reach, and cut emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 while closing the energy access gap and providing more than one billion people who currently rely on harmful fuels with clean cooking solutions. The new commitments showcase the bold actions needed to meet the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7).
In addition to the announcements of commitments, the Dialogue will also produce a global roadmap for action and timelines needed through 2030 to meet the targets for clean, affordable energy for all set out in Sustainable Development Goal 7, towards net-zero emissions by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
The roadmap, which will be presented in the summary of the Dialogue by the Secretary-General, called on governments, businesses and civil society organisations to close the energy access gap by 2030, and accelerate the clean energy transition by tripling investments in clean energy and energy efficiency by 2030.
It also called for phasing out coal by 2030 for OECD countries and 2040 for all others, and shifting fossil fuel subsidies to renewable energy investments, while creating new decent and healthy jobs and ensuring a just, inclusive transition.
The roadmap draws on inputs from expert working groups and was discussed at Ministerial-level forums in June.
Recent reports from the IPCC and UNFCCC have shown that countries are not moving fast enough on climate action to avert disastrous consequences and that even if countries met all their NDC commitments under the Paris Agreement, the collective impact would be only a fraction of what is needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
In addition to mobilising voluntary commitments, the energy compacts can help by encouraging countries to outline the detailed set of energy actions that they have planned to meet their targets and providing an avenue to build partnerships and resources.
By engaging businesses, foundations, civil society organisations and other key players, the Compacts are advancing concrete multi-stakeholder solutions and partnerships needed to achieve greater impact.
Presently, close to 760 million people still lack access to electricity and some 2.6 billion people lack access to clean cooking solutions.
It is estimated that the cost of closing the energy access gap is about $35 billion dollars a year for electricity access and $25 billion dollars a year for clean cooking. The yearly investment in clean energy and energy efficiency required to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 is estimated to be $4.4 trillion.
Commitments under the Energy Compacts could also give a huge boost to renewable energy worldwide. National governments committed to installing an additional 698 gigawatts (GW) of clean energy from solar, wind, geothermal, hydro and renewables-based hydrogen, and businesses, notably power utilities, pledged to install an additional 823 GW, all by 2030. Several partnerships and industry associations promised to mobilise an additional 3500 GW of renewables by 2030. One gigawatt is roughly equivalent to the output of 500 onshore wind turbines. The Energy Compacts also include commitments to save energy equivalent to more than 7000 GW by implementing efficiency measures.
The production and use of energy is also the main cause of the climate crisis, accounting for about 75 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions and making decarbonization of the energy system essential.
In line with the need to continue raising ambition, additional energy compacts are expected to be registered in the months ahead, including in the lead-up to the November Climate COP 26, as momentum grows and partnerships are expanded. Progress on the Compacts will be tracked through the 2030 target year, with annual reporting through a publicly transparent online database.
Under the leadership of its Co-Chairs, Achim Steiner, Administrator of UNDP, and Damilola Ogunbiyi, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, who have also served as Co-Chairs of the High-level Dialogue, UN-Energy will continue to spearhead transformational commitments and partnerships and sustain the momentum created by the dialogue.