From ISO to LEDs: Global leaders announce seven huge schemes to drive the low-carbon transition

Global leaders gathered in San Francisco last week (1-2 June) to discuss ways to implement the goals established in the Paris climate accord as part of the Seventh Clean Energy Ministerial. With the dust now settled, edie explores the seven huge new initiatives announced at the event.

Encompassing 23 countries and the European Commission – which collectively account for 90% of the world’s clean energy investments and 75% of its emissions – the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) was established to improve energy efficiency worldwide, enhance that clean energy supply and expand the access to this supply globally.

“As one of the first major gatherings of clean energy leaders since COP21, CEM7 is a key tool needed to implement the clean energy goals made in Paris,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “CEM and the commitments made today demonstrate how the United States and our global partners can speed the deployment of clean energy technologies to meet our climate goals, grow low-carbon economies, and strengthen our energy security.” 

With President Obama welcoming delegates to the event, some of the world’s leading policy makers began at two day exploration into the ways that countries could collectively drive the low carbon movement in order to comply with the 2C pathway established during December’s historic Paris talks.

The event provided the opportunity for ministers, business leaders, and others to make major clean energy commitments and announcements to drive down energy use and carbon emissions. edie has provided a round-up of the major initiatives that could reshape the future if they are successfully implemented.

Corporate Sourcing for Renewables Campaign

Partners including the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), RE100, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) all gathered at San Francisco to help launch a major new campaign dedicated to signing businesses up to a 100% renewables pledge.

While the CEM campaign is aimed at businesses of all sizes it is currently targeting some of the biggest and most influential companies to commit and join the RE100 initiative.

With RE100 analysis revealing that 1,000 businesses using 100% renewables would lead to a tenth of all electricity-generated carbon emissions to be cut worldwide, six companies including TetraPak – which is also part of the CE100 – Interface and Equinix committed to the RE100 plan, bring the total number of companies enlisted to 65.

Clean Energy Solutions Centre

The Clean Energy Solutions Centre offers a free, expert assistance platform for countries looking to implement their Nationally-Determined Contributions (NDCs) that were submitted during the Paris Agreement signing ceremony.

The Centre will serve as a “critical component” in helping countries adhere to climate commitments by assisting and providing information on clean energy policies and aiding with finance measures to countries around the world.

Countries are already pooling money into the initiative in order to expand the expertise out to poorer nations. In March, Australia pledge more than $722,000 to the Centre to focus on the Asia Pacific countries, while Sweden announced in San Francisco that it will provide $200,000 to the initiative in order to promote technical assistance to African and Caribbean nations, which could be powered by 50% renewables in the near future.

ClimateWorks Foundation

During the San Francisco event, GO15 – an association of 18 of the planet’s largest power grid operators – revealed that they would work with the CEM to address challenges relating to power grid modernisation.

Promising to address operational, technological and financial challenges, the Foundation will work with Mexico, India and China to decarbonise their grids, while the US, Mexico and Canada have agreed to carry out a North American Renewable Integration Study – the single largest renewable energy integration study in existence.

With inflexible renewables such as wind and solar becoming mainstream parts of the grid generation mix, the Foundation will work to modernise grids, with options such as demand side response – which the UK’s National Grid is already utilising to handle a “summer of excess” – being explored.

Energy Management Campaign

The Energy Management Campaign is a mobilising mechanism urging governments and businesses to use the ISO 50001 standard in order to provide transparency to stakeholders and strive towards in-house climate and energy goals.

With analysis showing that a global implementation of the standard could save more than $600bn in energy costs and reduce carbon emissions by 6,500Mt, the Campaign is targeting 50,001 global certifications of the standard by 2020.

With npower telling edie that ISO 50001 had sparked a behaviour change within the company, businesses such as Avant Garde, Cummins, Schneider Electric and Samsung all greeted the campaign announcement by agreeing to sign on.

Global Lighting Challenge

Endorsed by the Vatican, the Global Lighting Challenge has already seen more than eight billion individual LED lighting products pledged, with more than 100 million already deployed around the world.

The aim of the Challenge is to see 10bn LED products installed worldwide, which could reduce energy consumption for lighting by 52% and save 735 million tons of CO2 each year.

Lighting the way to this target is Philips Lighting, which pledged to sell more than two billion LED lights by 2020 as part of a wider goal to become carbon neutral in its global operations. Philips also revealed that it expects its US operations to reach a 100% carbon neutral status later this year.

Advanced Cooling Challenge

Governments, companies and stakeholders have been challenged by CEM to develop and deploy efficient smart-cooling technologies that would act as a climate-friendly replacement to current cooling systems.

Improving efficiency standards for cooling technologies – which are expected to surge 33-fold by 2100 – by a third before 2030 could reduce carbon emissions by 25bn Mt and reduce electricity consumption by as much as 790GW.

So far, the US, India, China, Canada and Saudi Arabia have signed up to the Challenge, with each country pledging to introduce policies to stimulate efficiency demands through incentivised promotions and enhanced labelling.

Global Lighting and Energy Access Partnership

Led by the U.S. Department of Energy, Global LEAP announced a plethora of new investments aimed at advancing the global off-grid market in order to incentivise renewable energy solutions. The Partnership will use the funds to upscale small-scale solar and lighting systems as part of a wider push to comply with the UN’s 7th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of achieving universal energy access by 2030. 

While Global LEAP has been active for a number of years in this area, the San Francisco conference ignited an accelerated effort to push the off-grid agenda. Italy pledged more than $7m to the World Bank Group’s Lighting Global program, while Power Africa announced a $1.5m multi-year commitment to support the expansion of off-grid technologies in East Africa.

Matt Mace

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