The ministerial segment of the High-Level Dialogue on Energy's (HLDE) Ministerial Thematic Forum on Energy Transition discussed challenges and opportunities in accelerating a global shift toward clean energy and higher energy efficiency. Speakers said such action is essential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while noting that it should also seek to increase access to energy and ensure the transition is just and inclusive. Many speakers stressed the need for greater and more intense collaboration and cooperation to achieve a successful global transition.
The ministerial segment opened with remarks from a youth advocate declaring that the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy “is not an option, but an inevitability that should not be delayed any further.” Ten UN Member State Global Champions made remarks on the day’s theme and the three co-leads of the Technical Working Group on Energy Transition introduced the report and its recommendations.
Two energy compacts from a private sector actor and a coalition of Latin American countries were formally announced. Many ministers also took the opportunity to preview the compacts they intend to submit to the HLDE in September 2021.
Additional events on 23 June included a discussion among four Ministers and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the day's theme, a “fireside chat” took place with Francesco Starace, CEO of the energy company ENEL, and an interactive panel discussed how to involve representatives from industry and civil society. Prior to the ministerial segment, multi-stakeholder dialogues were held on: scaling up renewable energy; technology solutions and innovation on renewable energy and energy efficiency; and partnership and cooperation for the energy transition.
Two energy compacts were formally announced during the ministerial segment. David Lecoque, CEO, Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE), said his business association commits to enable the private sector to achieve the following by 2030: delivering sustainable electricity (tier 3 or above) to at least 500 million more people; catalyzing creation of at least five million green jobs; and avoiding one billion tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2030.
Alejandra Bernal, Head of International Affairs, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Colombia, announced Colombia is joining with Chile, the Dominican Republic and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to submit an energy compact regarding the Renewable Energy for Latin America and the Caribbean (RELAC) initiative. The compact sets a regional target of at least 70% participation of renewable energy sources in the power matrix of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) by 2030. She invited other LAC nations to join them in the compact before the September HLDE.
During their interventions on 23 June, other energy compacts previewed included:
- Bento Albuquerque, Minister of Mines and Energy, Brazil, previewed compacts his country will submit on biofuels and green hydrogen;
- Raj Kumar Singh, Minister of State (Power, New and Renewable Energy), India, previewed a compact involving the International Solar Alliance to promote transition to solar power in developing countries;
- Francesco La Camera, Director General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), previewed a green hydrogen compact being developed in collaboration with Denmark, Chile, Germany, the Netherlands, the World Energy Council and the UN High-Level Champions for Climate Change;
- Francisco Javier López, Undersecretary of Energy, Chile, previewed a national compact to raise the share of renewable energy in his country’s energy mix and to double the energy efficiency rate by 2030;
- Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, Minister of Environment, Nigeria, previewed a national compact for an energy transition plan with a detailed roadmap focusing on meeting 2030 and 2050 targets; and
- Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany, previewed a compact to achieve a mostly decarbonized power system in the 2030s and to help developing countries in the use of decentralized energy and innovative technologies.
Official Launch of the Theme Report on Energy Transition
The report prepared by the Technical Working Group on Energy Transition was officially launched during the ministerial segment of the Forum. In an interactive panel, Franciso La Camera, Director General, IRENA, Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) commented on some of the priority recommendations of the report, developed by a multi-stakeholder group of experts co-led by the three agencies. The recommendations include calls to:
- rapidly scale up deployment of available energy transition solutions to reach 8000 GW of renewables by 2030;
- increase the average annual rate of energy efficiency improvement from the current 0.8% to 3% through the implementation of all available technologies while supporting further innovation;
- invest in physical infrastructure to enable the energy transition;
- phase out coal, with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries to do so by 2030 while redirecting international energy financing toward the transition, and non-OECD countries to phase out coal by 2040;
- mainstream energy policies into economic, industrial, labor, educational, and social strategies;
- establish medium- and long-term integrated energy planning strategies, define decarbonization targets, and adapt policies and regulations to shape energy systems that boost sustainable development;
- create regional energy markets to facilitate the integration of renewables, promote cross-border power grid connectivity and trade, and further reduce costs through economies of scale;
- intensify international cooperation on energy transition to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and avoid future catastrophic climate change impacts;
- tailor labor and social protection policies to the specific needs of each region and country; and
- make the energy transition a participatory enterprise.
Global Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue Segment
Prior to the day’s ministerial segment, multi-stakeholder dialogues considered the following themes: scaling up renewable energy; technology solutions and innovation on renewable energy and energy efficiency; and partnership and cooperation for the energy transition.
Scaling Up Renewable Energy: This dialogue focused on “Harnessing renewable energy potentials worldwide for socio-economic resilience and equity” and “Capacity building to accelerate renewable energy deployment in industry and transport.”
On the contribution of renewable energy to resilience and equity, speakers discussed governments’ role in ensuring infrastructure is resilient to innovation and change. A speaker stressed the need for transparency in government planning to facilitate private sector decisions that align with government priorities. Storage solutions were highlighted as an area for further consideration. Solarizing the agriculture sector was also noted as a priority. A panelist highlighted the need to remove fossil fuel subsidies while instituting transition periods for countries that are reliant on subsidies.
On capacity building, speakers discussed the value of quality information in order to adjust policies. The need for cross-sectoral collaboration was also raised, with one speaker noting that bans on vehicles that use fossil fuels are discussed without parallel conversations about how to ensure electricity sources for electric vehicles will be 100% renewable. Truck transport was highlighted as an area for further attention.
Technology Solutions and Innovation on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency: A panel on “Opportunities & Challenges for the Acceleration of Energy Efficiency Expansion” identified challenges to improving energy efficiency including: lack of financing; lock in to outdated technology; comparison between the capital costs of acquiring new technologies and the operational costs of installed technologies. They called for instituting a programmatic approach to energy efficiency, and for engaging with the private sector.
A panel on “Emerging Technologies for a Sustainable Energy Future: offshore wind and green hydrogen” highlighted the role of offshore wind and hydrogen in enabling the energy transition and considered case study examples of investing in these technologies. Participants discussed the costs and opportunities, highlighting the need for policy instruments specifically targeting these technologies, and in the case of offshore wind, the need to engage all maritime stakeholders such as the shipping, fishing and defense sectors. On the state of the energy transition, speakers said electrification based on renewables will be crucial and for places where electrification is difficult, such as steel and long-range transport, hydrogen will be crucial.
Partnership and Cooperation for the Energy Transition: A panel addressing “Coal to clean: Energy transition strategies to match short-term actions with long-term objectives” noted that some developing countries must use natural gas during their transition, although the future of natural gas may not be very long, and that the price of renewables outcompete fossil fuels in many markets. They called for international institutions to finance decommissioning of coal plants and recommissioning them for other purposes, and for frameworks that address concerns of those negatively affected by the transition.
A panel on “International cooperation and regional integration to advance the energy transition” noted the transition must occur “at speed,” requiring international cooperation on policy, technology, and finance, and that renewables will reach only 10% of the South by the target date. They called for eliminating subsidies to fossil fuel companies and setting a global price for carbon.
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