SDG 7: How business is acting as a market shift for renewable energy

Despite the devastating evidence of the IPCC report last year on the impact of 1.5°C of global warming, the findings have not sparked a downward trend in global carbon emissions. The news just hasn't been met with appropriate levels of urgency and immediate action from national governments.

SDG 7: How business is acting as a market shift for renewable energy

We know that limiting global warming relies on unlocking universally available clean energy. To achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 – affordable and clean energy for all by 2030 – businesses worldwide need to raise their ambition. Above all, businesses must play a leading role in speeding up the transition to clean energy systems.

Although not quickly enough, things are changing. The cost of solar power has decreased so rapidly – over 80% since 2009 – that it is now cheaper to produce than coal. Technological shifts are enabling wider access to clean energy worldwide. Falling battery costs will see the price of electric vehicles (EVs) match petrol or diesel vehicles by 2024. 

So what role do businesses play?  

Businesses that lead the energy transition by investing in renewables and energy productivity will be the greatest beneficiaries of the opportunities presented by cost savings, efficiencies and appealing to increasingly conscientious customers.

Hilton Hotels have cited savings of $1bn since they began setting annual targets for energy, water and waste in 2009, reducing its carbon footprint by 30%. Global technology and industrial leader Johnson Controls is already reporting cost savings of over $100m from a 2002 baseline after joining our energy productivity initiative EP100.

The private sector is driving the transition to clean energy globally because it makes business sense.

Through our initiatives, some 230 companies are opting for 100% renewables (RE100), energy productivity (EP100) and electric transport (EV100) – helping to tackle the most significant contributors to business emissions.

These commitments have translated into significant reshaping of business strategy and investments. For example, our EV100 member DeutschePost DHL’s StreetScooter subsidiary is now making EVs and selling them to other logistics companies. By helping to bring LED lighting into common use in cities and buildings worldwide – including 250,000 in New York City – Signify (formerly Philips Lighting) is on track to be carbon neutral in North America this year.

Business action on renewable electricity is shifting global markets. More than one in five RE100 members are sourcing over 95% renewable electricity, while EV100 members have already switched more than 10,000 vehicles to electric.

Those leading the charge on climate action are increasingly shouting louder about it – this year we have seen Budweiser’s Super Bowl advert declaring its commitment to wind energy, and the world leading auto maker Daimler recently announced that their passenger car fleet will be carbon neutral by 2039. These public declarations are helping to encourage sustainable behaviours from their peers.

Businesses have recognized that no single company can solve the market challenges represented by the clean energy transition, and are increasingly working with peers, suppliers, customers and policy-makers to demonstrate demand and influence solutions in markets around the world.

Our urgent call is for businesses to identify the ways in which they can accelerate change. The clear message from the IPCC report is that we need to do more, faster. The school strikes for climate worldwide and actions by Extinction Rebellion have helped create public awareness which provides support and opportunity for businesses to drive faster change.

Businesses must shift from discussing individual targets to implementing collaborative solutions. Now is the time to drive innovative, energy smart strategies that connect EVs, energy storage and the growth of zero-carbon grids, democratising access to clean energy. Above all, the transition to clean energy must be tackled with ambition, pace and scale – we have no time to lose.

edie’s SDG 7 Spotlight report

edie has launched its first SDG Spotlight report, the first of many downloadable reports looking at how businesses can transform operations, services, supply chains and strategies to help achieve the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), with the first focusing on Goal 13: Climate Action.

n the latest report, sponsored by Centrica Bu.siness Solutions, edie explores what impact business can have in achieving SDG 7 Clean Energy


Featuring exclusive industry viewpoints from report sponsors Centrica Business Solutions and the Renewable Energy Association (REA) the report outlines the steps businesses can take across operations, business strategies and value chains in order to drive demand for clean energy solutions across the globe.

Helen Clarkson is the chief executive of the Climate Group

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