‘Heads above the parapet’: Corporates urged to raise ambitions on renewables

The Climate Group and CDP are urging corporates to go further than setting 100% renewable electricity commitments - and to bring deadlines for such targets forward - if they wish to drive the clean energy transition for the benefit of the business community.

The organisations made the call to action in a new RE100 leadership paper, which recommends that companies wishing to become “real” corporate leaders on renewable energy should set more ambitious targets, source renewables in a way that actively grows the clean energy market and influence suppliers to follow their lead.

The paper, published on Wednesday (August 15), calls for the discussion surrounding business leadership to be broadened. It argues that discussions currently centre on whether corporate procurement methods directly enable the expansion of new renewable energy capacity.

The two organisations suggest that the introduction of five new leadership dimensions – namely ambition, impactful procurement, sustainability, influence and transparency – could provide a more comprehensive picture of the ways companies are seeking to transform the electricity system.

The publication of the paper comes after several of the RE100 initiative’s 140 members, allegedly asked The Climate Group and CDP how they could optimise their impact and use their influence most effectively in the shift towards renewable procurement. Collectively the RE100 members create around 146TWh in demand for renewable electricity annually.

“Since its beginning, RE100 has been about leadership,” The Climate Group said in a statement. “Our members put their heads above the parapet and pledged to go 100% renewable when few thought it possible, smashing preconceptions and sending a powerful demand signal to the market.”

“2018 is a pivotal year for accelerating climate action, and leading companies want to be as effective as possible in reducing emissions and in driving the clean energy transition for the benefit of their business.”

A new dimension

Specifically, the paper recommends that corporates should be transparent about the challenges and successes they encounter as they move towards 100% renewables targets, stating that increased transparency from leader businesses can enable other businesses to follow suit.

It notes that Google, which powers its global consumption of electricity with 100% renewable electricity, could be classed as a leader in the transparency dimension. Google has published information detailing the rationale of its renewable energy policy and strategy, alongside lessons learned in its journey to become 100% renewable.

Within the influence dimension, the paper names Ikea and AkzoNobel as exemplary leaders. It notes that Ikea, one of the founder members of the RE100, has set itself apart from other corporates by setting a renewable power production target rather than a consumption target. This has seen the company generate the equivalent of 73% of its energy use from its own wind and solar arrays.

Meanwhile, the paper praises AkzoNobel, for collaborating with its refineries, the Dutch Government and the notoriously carbon-heavy steel and agriculture industries to drive a broad shift towards renewable power. AkzoNobel currently meets 45% of its energy consumption with renewables.

The publication comes shortly after a recent IRENA report concluded that more than 2,400 companies across 75 nations sourced 465TWh of renewable energy in 2017 – but that renewables demand could soar if companies turned voluntary agreements into active goals.

Similarly, research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (Bloomberg NEF) revealed that the business community has already set a new record for levels of procurement in clean energy in 2018, sourcing 7.2GW so far this year.

Sarah George 

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