Global transition to clean power discussed

13 January 2021 | Energy

The virtual COP26 Roundtable on Clean Power Transition, under the theme “Achieving a rapid shift to green, affordable and resilient power systems” was held amid growing recognition that climate change remains one of the greatest challenges facing humanity.

Participants included UN Secretary General António Guterres, COP26 President Alok Sharma, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio, and representatives from governments, multilateral development banks, the private sector and international organisations.

One of the most direct impacts of the pandemic was the disruption it caused to the 2020 edition of the global climate change talks known commonly as COP, hosted annually by the United Nations.

The event was postponed to November this year, when it is due to be held in Scotland.

According to Guterres, the year ahead would be critical “not only in beating the Covid-19 pandemic but in meeting the climate challenge”.

Pledge

He said that African countries in particular were vulnerable, and renewed his call for developed nations to fulfill their longstanding pledge to provide U$100 billion a year for developing countries to support both climate mitigation and adaptation.

“Huge amounts of money have been earmarked for the Covid-19 recovery and stimulus measures. However, sustainable investments are still not being prioritized. We must invest in the future of affordable renewable energy for all people, everywhere,” Guterres said.

Discussions gained an added urgency in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has strained fiscal resources that are available to cope with global crises.

The accelerated transition to green, affordable and resilient power systems has been identified as a priority for COP26 under the presidency of the United Kingdom, which has established the Energy Transition Council to drive the transformation.

Clean power

COP26 president Sharma emphasised that the global transition to clean power must move at least four times the current pace to achieve targets set out in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

He called for enhanced global cooperation to boost innovation and economies of scale.

“This is our moment in history to make those vital decisive and positive choices so that we can protect the future of our planet and our peoples,” Sharma said.

Di Maio, whose government co-hosted Monday’s event, said a clean energy transition “must be a universal goal in the interests of the entire international community. Italy has been working with international agencies and the private sector to foster smart and digital power infrastructure in African countries. Such an improvement would boost energy efficiency and facilitate energy access for all local communities.”

Light Up and Power Africa

Adesina, who reiterated that the African Development Bank will no longer finance coal projects, said that the bank had prioritized renewables as the mainstay of its Light Up and Power Africa strategic priority. As a result, the share of renewable energy in the bank’s power generation investments now stands at 80%.

The bank expects to invest U$10 billion in the energy sector over the next five years, Adesina said. One of its flagship projects is the U$20 billion Desert-to-Power program, which strives to build the largest solar zone in the world in the Sahel and to provide electricity to some 250 million people.

“When we light up and power Africa – based on an energy mix aligned to a low carbon transition and prioritizing renewable energy sources – we will achieve a more economically prosperous Africa,” Adesina said.

Source: African Development Bank Group (AfDB)