Clean energy at COP26: Philanthropists and investors launch $100bn alliance as UK and India collaborate on green grids
The Bezos Earth Fund, Ikea Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation have forged a major new alliance with central investment banks, aiming to mobilise $100bn for renewable energy, other low-carbon technologies and green jobs.
Called the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP), the initiative was unveiled at COP26 in Glasgow this morning (2 November) and a formal launch event featuring world leaders, ministers and the financial sector is scheduled for this evening.
GEAPP has been launched in recognition that, while developing nations are currently responsible for just a fraction of global emissions, that proportion could grow exponentially through to 2050 without support to ensure they can leapfrog the coal-fired industrial revolution, instead pairing increased energy access with the clean energy transition. At present, energy-poor developing nations are only receiving 13% of global clean energy financing, despite representing nearly half of the world’s population, the Alliance has stated.
The Alliance’s partners have today committed some $10bn to fossil fuel transition activities, approaching renewables at a utility-scale and at distributed levels. They hope to leverage at least another $90bn from the private and public sectors. As well as energy access projects and renewable schemes, funding will be channelled into green jobs. The Alliance has a vision to reach 150 million jobs within a decade, “creating, enabling or improving” 150 million roles.
At present, the Alliance’s members are the UK government; Italian government; Danish government; The Rockefeller Foundation, IKEA Foundation, and Bezos Earth Fund; the African Development Bank Group; the Asian Development Bank; the European Investment Bank; the Inter-American Development Bank; the International Finance Corporation; the UK’s CDC Group; US International Development Finance Corporation and the World Bank.
A channel for applications from developing and emerging economies wishing to apply for support has opened, with the Alliance stating that it will work with governments to “design and implement their decarbonisation plans and enhance their domestic policy, planning, and regulatory frameworks”, thus creating a “more favourable investment environment and enabling the end-to-end delivery of national transformational programmes”.
“The Alliance will work closely with emerging and developing countries who are keen to embrace an inclusive and just energy transition, to bring carbon emissions down and incomes up,” said Ikea Foundation chief executive Per Heggenes.
“We’re proud to continue to bring together governments, philanthropies, development finance institutions, and the private sector to join us in our collective ambition.”
Italian Minister for the Ecological Transition Roberto Cingolani said: “Homo Sapiens are facing the greatest challenge ever: to change its development model in the attempt to deliver a livable future to the next generations. By no means this can be done if we continue to treat separately climate change and global inequalities.
“The Alliance is a world-class initiative, joining public and private efforts to help one billion people to improve their standard of living, meanwhile all together reducing the global CO2 emissions by 4 billion tonnes. This is a great promise to our children, and a strong commitment by states, investors, and philanthropic institutions to act synergistically.”
Green Grids Initiative
In related news, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have launched a new ‘Green Grids Initiative’ that will convene national governments, policymakers, businesses, researchers and citizens’ groups in efforts to accelerate the construction of new renewable energy infrastructure.
A Ministerial Steering Group has been announced, with representatives from the UK, India, France and the US. Representatives from Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia will be announced by the end of COP26, with the UK and India also hoping to secure support from Australia and Germany. A consortium of universities will also be assembled, with Cambridge, Imperial College, Oxford and UCL confirmed as the UK participants.
The Initiative will primarily focus on international energy trading, with a statement arguing that “we need new transmission lines crossing frontiers and connecting different time zones, creating a global ecosystem of interconnected renewables that are shared for mutual benefit”. This would help to overcome the intermittency of renewable energy generation – solar in particular.
Funding and support will also be provided to microgrids and minigrids, in recognition of the fact that remote villages do not always have access to other connections, and to smart electric vehicle (EV) charging that can help balance the grid.
The launch of the Initiative comes amid a crowded discussion on energy independence, as many nations face an energy price crisis due to issues with the international gas supply. The crisis has prompted some calls for greater coal reliance but, ultimately, has prompted many nations to rethink gas’s role as a transition fuel and to increase renewable energy generation and storage support.