Initiative Helps Islands Lead on Climate Action

Today is Lima Climate Action Day at COP 20, dedicated to strengthening the global message on the need to increase both ambition and collaboration on climate change.

To highlight actions already being taken and encourage further cooperative climate agreements, the government of Peru hosted a special event highlighting various initiates including: IRENA’s SIDS Lighthouse Initiative, Renewable Energy 100, and the Climate Bond initiative.

IRENA’s Elizabeth Press spoke about IRENA’s effort to develop more renewable energy in small island developing states (SIDS). Disconnected from mainland electricity grids, islands are especially vulnerable to price fluctuations for imported fossil fuels. But renewable energy deployment can help.

Elizabeth Press, IRENA

“SIDS can not only play their part, but can also lead in the global effort to mitigate climate change through the rapid deployment of renewables” Elizabeth Press, Deputy Director, Innovation and Technology Centre

IRENA launched its SIDS Lighthouses Initiative at the Climate Summit in New York on 23 September 2014. By 2020, the Lighthouse Initiative aims to:

  • Mobilize USD 500 million
  • Deploy 100 MW of new solar PV
  • Deploy 20 MW of new wind power
  • Deploy small hydropower and geothermal energy and a number marine technology projects in progress
  • Ensure all participating SIDS develop renewable energy road maps

By speeding the uptake of renewable energy on islands around the world, the Lighthouse Initiative will enable SIDS to lead by example on climate change. Maximising the use of indigenous, clean and plentiful renewable energy requires a structured, holistic approach to ensure long-term sustainability. The SIDS Lighthouse process will also capture invaluable lessons for the rest of the world.

Quote of the Day: Climate Group CEO Mark Kenber

“Business is finding that committing to renewable energy makes sense. They are making the switch for business reasons…it actually saves them money.”

Mark Kenber, CEO of the Climate Group, discussing the RE 100 campaign during a side event today at COP 20.

The RE 100 campaign aims to get 100 of the world’s top companies to commit to 100% renewable energy by 2020. IKEA, Swiss Re, BT, Formula E, H&M, KPN, Mars, Nestlé, Philips, Reed Elsevier, J. Safra Sarasin, Yoox and others have already committed.

IRENA Side Event: Government Policies and Flexible Financing Needed to Scale-Up Renewables

In this latest round of climate negotiations, two things have become clear:

  1. There is an urgent need for rapid climate action to reduce global emissions.
  2. Phasing out fossil-fuels and scaling up renewable energy is the quickest, most realistic, most cost-effective way to achieve this.

What is not yet so clear is how best to achieve this scale-up of renewables in the world energy mix. Today, IRENA coordinated a side event with various public and private sector representatives to discuss this question, share success stories of renewable energy adoption, and discuss solutions.

IRENA Director-General Adnan Amin began the dialogue by providing some context based on IRENA research findings:

  • ECONOMIC: Renewables are now the most cost-competitive source of power in many parts of the world. Investment in new renewable capacity has exceeded investment in new fossil-based power generation capacity for three years running.
  • SOCIAL: The renewable energy sector employed 6.5 million people in 2013. Renewables brought power to 13 billion people off the grid in Bangladesh. 7 million premature deaths are linked to air pollution annually.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL: Renewables are 250 times less carbon intensive than coal. Doubling the share of renewables in the world’s energy mix would reduce emissions enough to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

(Presentation slides)

Two key areas that must be addressed in order to scale-up renewables are policy and financing. Representatives from Sweden and the United Arab Emirates discussed how government policies in their countries have enabled the implementation of renewables.

Policy Panel

“Sweden has the ambition to have a climate neutral society by 2050 and we are on track to meet this goal. Thanks to national policies, Sweden has achieved a 23% emission reduction since 1990 and our GDP has risen 60% during that same period. This proves that renewables make economic sense. Our dependency on fossil fuel has been reduced by half, and we are now one of the most renewable energy-dependent economies.” – Katja Awiti, Deputy Director General, Climate Department, Ministry of Climate and Environment Sweden

“The United Arab Emirates recognized early that our economy was based on one thing, oil and gas, so we needed to diversify. Renewable energy projects now make economic sense, specifically solar for our region. If renewables work in the UAE, they can work anywhere in the world.” – Majid Al Suwaidi, Chief Climate Change Negotiator, UAE

Representatives from the Climate Investment Funds and E3G further discussed the necessity of concessional financing in scaling up renewables. Concessional financing offers flexible or lenient terms for repayment, usually at lower than market interest rates.


“This event is discussing a topic at the heart of what is going here at COP. According to the IPCC, 65% of our carbon budget has already been used. We need to rapidly scale up renewable energy projects and decrease emissions. CIF has already funded and implemented 61 projects towards this end.” – Mafalda Duarte, Manager of the USD 8.3 billion Climate Investment Funds

“Because most of the funding for renewable energy projects is up front and therefore involves a great amount of risk, concessional finance to buy down this risk is vital. This helps share risks with the private sector and makes projects more appealing to private sector funding.” – Dr. Amal Lee Amin, Associate Director of E3G

IRENA also offers concessional financing through the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. The Project Facility has already earmarked USD 100 million in project funding over its first two cycles and will provide an additional USD 250 million in its remaining five cycles. Projects approved for funding to date include solar, hydropower, biomass, wind and hybrid projects in Ecuador, Mali, Maldives, Mauritania, Samoa and Sierra Leone.

New Initiative To Measure, Report and Enhance Action on Renewables and Efficiency

1GTThe 1 Gigaton Coalition was officially launched today at a special event hosted by the Government of Norway and UNEP at the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru.

The coalition will help developing countries in particular promote achievements in reducing GHG emissions resulting from their actions on renewable energy and energy efficiency. It will help countries measure and report their GHG emissions’ savings, highlight their contributions to closing the emissions gap and encourage them to enhance their action in the energy sector.
Speakers included IRENA’s Director General, Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment, Executive Director of UNEP, COP 20 President from Peru and the UK Special Representative for Climate Change.

Head of IRENA and Peruvian Minister Discuss Renewables in Peru

Today, IRENA’s Director-General Adnan Amin, sat down with the Peruvian Minister of Energy and Mines, Eleodoro Mayorga, to discuss the evolution of the Peruvian energy sector. They discussed the integration of renewable energy into Peru’s system as well as how IRENA can assist the country in reaching its goal of 60% of electricity from renewable sources by 2024 as recently announced in the Peruvian Energy Plan.

Earlier this year, the Peruvian Government and IRENA cooperated on a Renewables Readiness Assessment for the country. The assessment identifies further actions that need to be taken to expand the share of renewables in Peru, as well as how to better complement rural electrification and improve on-going efforts to foster the development of bio fuel in the country.

Quote of the Day From Barbara Hendricks, Federal Environment Minister of Germany

Germany will continue the expansion of renewable energies to lower emissions from fossil-fuel power plants by an additional 22 million tonnes by 2020.

Overall it is a question of gradually tackling a key challenge: power generation in Germany needs to be almost carbon-free by 2050 in order to achieve our national and European climate targets. Replacing fossil power generation with renewable energies makes the biggest contribution to this.

Barbara Hendricks, Federal Environment Minister of Germany at COP 20 side event “Meeting national climate mitigation targets: Experiences from Germany and Mexico”

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