COP21 Monday review: Energy pledges hit the headlines

A packed first day of week two at COP21 saw businesses, nations and organisations take aim at the cause of two thirds of global emissions - energy generation.

Energy generation accounts for two thirds of global emissions

Energy generation accounts for two thirds of global emissions

Businesses are doing their part. Carmaker BMW and soft drinks producer Coca Cola Enterprises became the latest companies pledging to source all of their electricity from renewables, as they joined the Climate Group's RE100 initiative.

Four other companies also pledged to secure 100% renewable electricity as part of the campaign - International Flavours & Fragrances, Nordea Bank, Pearson and Swiss Post - taking the total number of companies signed up to RE100 to 53. 

New solar authority

Monday also the saw the launch of a new international trade body for the solar industry in Paris.

The Global Solar Council (GSC) was set up by 17 regional and national solar associations from around the world, including China, India, Europe and Brazil.

The UK’s Solar Trade Association (STA) is not a founding member, but a spokesperson told edie that the STA “totally supports” the new Council and “will certainly consider becoming a member”.

The Council says it aims to unify the solar power sector at an international level, share best practice and accelerate global market developments.

Earth power

Plans to boost the uptake of geothermal energy were also unveiled today, in the form of the new Global Geothermal Alliance (GGA), which is targeting 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 12GW installed so far. The GGA is a partnership of 36 countries and 23 institutions with an action plan in place to meet the set goal.

Cities leading the way

Over the weekend the mayors of 700 cities came together to commit to generating 100% of their energy from renewable sources by 2050. 

The cities, which are responsible for around 70% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, were eager to go beyond national pledges.

"Half of the solutions, half of the work needed to resolve the problems of climate change, depend on the action of mayors," said Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of the French capital. "Cities are formidable providers of solutions."

Everything else you need to know from Monday at COP21

Global emissions stall?

Global carbon emissions are projected to stall in 2015, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia and the Global Carbon Project.

Last year global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry grew by just 0.6 per cent – marking a year-on-year slow down. The projection for 2015 reveals a second year of slow growth or even a 0.6% decrease in global emissions.

While declines in emissions have previously occurred during periods of economic crisis, this would be the first decline during a period of strong global economic growth.

“Only a year ago people were assuming that economic growth and emissions growth were as inextricably coupled as Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin,” said Richard Black, the director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU).

COP21 stirring up green fever?

Ethical investment platform Abundance said it has seen a record pace of new investment in the UK during the COP21 climate talks in Paris.

From the 26th November to 6th December, £2.17 million was raised for several green projects, including wind and solar farms and biomass project.

Abundance joint managing director Bruce said: “Even if the UK Government has made some frankly embarrassing moves recently away from supporting crucial renewable energy development, our research and experience with investors proves support for it remains strong outside the Westminster village.”

Corporate coalition unveils low carbon plans

More than 150 companies have unveiled low-carbon plans in Paris which they say can collectively deliver 65% of the emissions reduction needed to limit global warming to two degrees.

The initiative has seen 153 corporations, including UnileverIkeaBPFordHeineken and Nestle, work together in a series of roundtables over the past year to develop nine sector-specific decarbonisation plans.

Bashing the greenwashers

Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), a campaign group that tries to add transparency to corporate EU lobbying, released a report in Paris “exposing” the relationship between PR companies and “climate-destructive clients”.

The report presents seven case studies, including Volkswagen’s crisis communications efforts as the emissions scandal unfolded, Gazprom’s use of PR diplomacy to facilitate its drilling in the Arctic, and spin by the palm oil industry.

CEO said in a statement: “The research reveals how PR and lobbying consultancies make some of the biggest climate change culprits appear to be part of the solution. However, these ‘solutions’ simply allow polluters to avoid changing their dirty business models and delay real action that could enact a transition to clean energy and keep us below the catastrophic tipping point for global warming.”

Big spenders back off from dirty investments

Two of the world’s biggest institutional investors—Allianz and ABP—today joined the Portfolio Decarbonization Coalition (PDC), a group of investors committed to supporting the fight against climate change.

With Allianz and ABP, the PDC now convenes 25 investors overseeing the gradual decarbonization of a total of USD 600 billion in Assets under Management (AUM), dramatically surpassing the PDC’s target of USD 100 billion.

Last week, Allianz, which has annual revenue of €122bn, also announced it will no longer invest in mining companies and utilities that generate more than 30% of their sales or energy creation from coal.

B team calls for net zero by 2050

Richard Branson and his B Team called upon world leaders to commit to a goal of net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050 over the weekend.

Branson said: “Companies can help the world get to carbon neutrality by mid-century, so long as governments set the goals

“If mandated, net-zero by 2050 will help the world stay below two degrees Celsius – a scientifically-proven safe operating zone.

 Brad Allen


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