Asian Energy Coalitions and Breakthrough Agendas: Six things you need to know from Decarbonisation Day at COP27

The first week at COP27 has flown by, but Friday (11 November) saw a flurry of last minute commitments to clean power and innovation before delegates break for a rest. Here, edie rounds up the key talking points from Decarbonisation Day.

Asian Energy Coalitions and Breakthrough Agendas: Six things you need to know from Decarbonisation Day at COP27

Image: UN Climate Change - Kiara Worth

The main driver to a net-zero world is that of decarbonisation, and how nations, corporates and regions can decarbonise in line with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement to deliver net-zero emissions by mid-Century.

It comes as no surprise then that decarbonisation day was filled with new announcements about cleantech and renewables, and well as new guidance on how net-zero should be pursued by corporates.

It’s not all good reading however, with a report warning that the world is on course to breach that carbon budget, and much quicker than anticipated.

So, as we head into the weekend, here’s a roundup of Decarbonisation Day (11 November) at COP27.

1) Asia’s Clean Energy Coalition aims to spur renewables demand

marks the launch of the Asia Clean Energy Coalition (ACEC) which aims to rapidly drive corporate clean energy procurement in Asia. Founded by Climate Group, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and the World Resources Institute (WRI), ACEC will bring expertise, credibility and a unified voice among business to accelerate the overall demand and supply of clean energy across the region.

ACEC will strategically improve the policy and regulatory environments for clean energy, in both national and regional Asian markets. The coalition seeks to align the world’s leading clean energy buyers, project developers and financiers, to help policymakers, utilities and energy regulators innovate and deploy cost effective clean technologies across the Asia-Pacific region.

Founding members of ACEC include Amazon, Apple, Cisco, Enel Green Power, Google, Iberdrola, Ingka Group (Largest IKEA franchisee), Mainstream Renewable Power, Meta, MUFG, Nike, Ørsted, Samsung Electronics and Sembcorp.

The coalition’s vision for 2030 is that clean energy in Asia’s markets is accessible, affordable and accountable at scale, with effective procurement frameworks, regulation and investment. Companies are meeting their clean energy demands and countries are meeting their clean energy goals.

For context, according to data from RE100, in 2019-2020, RE100 member companies covered only 16% of their electricity consumption in Asia-Pacific with renewable electricity, compared to 59% in North America and 81% in Europe

2) Report warns that the 1.5C carbon budget could be breached in the 2030s

Reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 would require annual reductions in emissions equivalent to the sharp drop recorded during the lockdowns of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report that warns that there is a 50% chance that the 1.5C pathway will be exceeded in under a decade based on current emission trajectories.

The annual Global Carbon Budget report is based on research from more than 100 scientists from the University of Exeter, the University of East Anglia (UEA), CICERO and Ludwig-Maximilian-University Munich, It provides an annual stocktake of both carbon emissions and carbon sinks.

The 2022 report, launched on Friday (11 November) at COP27, warns that the window to limit global average temperatures increases to 1.5C as envisioned under the Paris Agreement is closing rapidly.

The Global Carbon Budget finds that, if current emissions levels persist, there is a 50% chance that 1.5C will be breached within the next nine years.

Read the full story here.

3) ISO launches net-zero guidelines to respond to UN’s corporate greenwash concerns

Earlier this week, the UN-convened High Level Expert Group on Net Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities published its first set of recommendations for net-zero target development by non-state actors. This UN term covers all organisations which are not nations or states, such as cities and businesses. This report highlights the importance of reducing emissions as a priority, rather than over-relying on offsets.

In response, the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has published a set of definitions and guiding principles for target setting, intended to guide the creation of credible net-zero targets and plans across the public and private sectors.

The ‘Net-Zero Guidelines’ can be used by “all actors and organisations” of all sizes, in the public and private sectors. It is an influential platform and its previous resources are being used in some of the world’s highest-emission sectors and corporates. The ISO’a president Ulrika Francke has said that the body “is determined to increase positive impact worldwide” amd “ensure [the guidelines] are used with the broadest possible reach.”

Our full coverage of the guidelines is here.

4) Governments launch cleantech Breakthrough Agenda update

Governments representing half of global emissions and more than half of global GDP have provided a sweeping update on commitments to bring low-carbon technologies to price parity with their predecessors by 2030, as part of efforts to decarbonise hard-to-abate sectors.

The Breakthrough Agenda was first launched at COP26 and has now provided more information about how it aims to deliver its overarching aim of ensuring that low and zero-carbon technologies are affordable by the end of the decade.

New commitments were made covering transport, heavy industry, steel, manufacturing and hydrogen. All in all, there are 25 new collaborative actions for the Breakthrough Agenda participants to deliver. They have pledged to achieve all of them before COP28 begins in Dubai next winter.

The initiative has also added two new nations – Cambodia and Austria – and confirmed which nations will be leading some of its key sector-specific workstreams. The UK is a co-lead on the workstreams for power, along with Morocco; hydrogen, along with the US; agriculture, along with Egypt; steel, along with Germany, and road transport, along with the US and India.

5) Africa ‘primed’ to lead on green hydrogen

Some delegations from African nations are pushing for stronger global clean energy goals, recognising that decarbonisation is needed to bend the future warming curve and to minimise the physical climate risks they will face in the future.

Others are arguing that they must be able to develop new fossil fuel capacity to alleviate poverty, questioning why some developed nations are lecturing them without meeting their own renewables and nuclear goals first.

Against this backdrop, Masdar and Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week have published a joint report assessing the potential of green hydrogen development in Africa. The headline finding is that the continent could account for up to 10% of the global market by 2050, adding $120bn to its GDP. Read the report here.

6) UN unveils plans to track methane emissions

Methane has been steadily rising up the climate agenda in recent years as science has improved. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded, within the past 18 months, that at least a quarter of global heating to date is attributable to methane.

In response, the UN is set to launch a new satellite system to detect methane ‘hotspots’, allowing governments and businesses to respond to instances in which large quantities of this potent greenhouse gas are released.

Announced as part of the decarbonisation-themed day in the COP27 Presidency agenda, the Methane Alert and Response System (MARS) will be operated as part of the UN Environment Programmes International Methane Emissions Observatory. It has secured funding from the European Commission, US Government and the Bezos Earth Fund.

Data collected by MARS will be publicly available, in what is believed to be a world first. Additionally, major emissions events will be relayed to those with the power to step in with remediation, including national governments, states and corporates. These organisations will be able to ask the MARS team to provide advice.

Read edie’s coverage here.

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