The 11th session of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Assembly opened today.
The four day virtual event is expected to end on January 21, 2021.
The event will bring together Heads of State/Government, Ministers and energy decision-makers among its Membership and States-in-accession, as well as multilateral organisations, global stakeholders and private actors to reassess long-standing assumptions, perceived barriers and default decisions, and discuss the energy transition as an investment in our collective future.
Below are highlights of today’s High-level Panel on Energy Transition for Sustainable Post-COVID Recovery
H.E. Mr Parviz Shahbazov, Minister of Energy for Azerbaijani said the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the energy sector worldwide. But the world pushes through with its climate ambition, with countries announcing climate neutrality targets. Azerbaijan is keen to tap into the country’s potential in solar and bioenergy. An inter-agency commission has been established to pursue the achievement of renewables targets. Other measures related to incentives and aimed at attracting investments are being put in place. Such initiatives open the opportunities for sustainable development in Azerbaijan, with close partnership between public and private sectors, he concluded.
Hon Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources in Canada stated that the work in his country is way under way. Canada is already beating the Paris Agreement 2030 climate targets. The country is planning to phase out electricity from coal by the end of this decade and is investing in new sources of electricity generation to achieve net-zero goals. In addition, the country has set a national strategy for hydrogen and plans on supporting zero emission vehicles, fund retrofits and adopt nature-based solutions for a cleaner future. “IRENA is central to all of this,” he added.
In his intervention, Mr Zhang Jianhua, who is the Director for the National Energy Administration in China said IRENA has done a good job in facilitating activities and initiatives that advance renewable energy. During the pandemic, together we face many challenges in accelerating the global energy transition, but IRENA has shown innovative ways in highlighting the pathway to a zero emission future, he added, underlying that this has proven IRENA’s position as leader in the global energy transformation. As member of IRENA, China’s renewable deployment plan is aligned with IRENA’s vision, especially since the Chinese government has announced the target to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Renewable energy will play a key role in the journey towards that future, and strengthening cooperation with IRENA and members is one of the ways to achieve that, Mr Zhang Jianhua concluded.
Ms. Ditte Juul Jørgensen, the Director –General for European Commission stated that for Europe there is no going back to normal after the crisis. We should fund national recovery plans that are fully in line with the energy transition and climate neutrality, she continued. In this context, she outlined that the EU is developing measures to establish targets related to climate neutrality, set up strategies to advance off-shore renewable energy and identify measures for the energy transition to be just. EU is putting in place EUR 750 billion for decarbonisation measures, making sure that the investment creates jobs and improve welfare of all EU citizens, she conluded.
Mr Hae-Seok Ryu, South Korea praised IRENA’s work on hydrogen and the publication of recent reports on Green hydrogen cost reduction and Green hydrogen: A guide to policy making. He continued that the policy study has become a guidelines for policy makers to advance green hydrogen as a key element in the decarbonisation efforts. South Korea has created a net-zero 2020 action plan to achieve sustainable development and promote welfare. Mr Hae-Seok Ryu underlined the importance of partnerships and working together for global green growth, with IRENA leading the efforts.
H.E. Virginia Palmer, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Energy Resources in the United States said that the US and its private sector are striving to be at the forefront of the race towards climate neutrality. She outlined that as pointed out by IRENA, renewables can lead in job creation in the global energy transition, and jobs increase have been seen in different clean energy initiatives and projects in the US as well. But the transition should include those people in the fossil fuels sector. The essential role that IRENA plays in advancing policies that support clean energy solutions needs to be continued and supported by Members so our collective goals can be achieved.
H.E. Mr Benoit Revaz from Switzerland congratulates Mr La Camera on quick response in adapting to the current situation and focusing on what opportunities may emerge from the COCID-19 crisis. He welcomes IRENA’s increasing attention to issues of sustainable finance.
H.E. Mr Tan See Leng, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Trade and Industry and Second Minister for Manpower, Singapore said it is important for the global community to prioritise on faster energy transition. “To achieve that, we need to live green, to power green, and to develop green market structure,” he underlined. He assured that Singapore will continue to invest in research and development in the area of sustainable energy, as well as to enhance collaboration with market players. “Singapore is committed to do its part in the ASEAN region, and the global community,” he concluded.
Speaking to how African needs can be reflected in the climate and energy discussion, Damilola Ogunbiyi, said that it is important for Africa to be part of every conversation on energy transitions. “It is not just about offering a solar lamp. Renewable energy is about energy for economic growth in Africa. The young African teenager has the same aspirations as the Chinese teenager or the American teenager. Globally we have to commit to Africa.”
EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, says 2020 has been an encouraging year. “So many countries have become more invested in climate action. In the EU we believe in leading by example. By doing so we can show that this is an effective way to stimulate the economy, create jobs and lower energy bills across Europe and the world. I am certain that this year will be the year when we invest a lot in renewables both under state budgets and private sector.”
H.E. Mr Suhail Mohamed Faraj Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, United Arab Emirates said it is premature to say how the pandemic will further impact the energy sector. At least we know that there is less energy use during the pandemic. As with other countries, one of UAE’s energy objectives is energy security, and reducing energy intensity is one way to achieve it. Using less energy is also the cheapest way to conserve the planet, he concluded.
Mr Makhtar Diop, Vice-President for Infrastructure, World Bank, said that there should be an alignment between nationally determined contributions with the global climate target. That is why it is important to use the momentum of COP26 to review all targets and develop fitting strategies and plan to implement them. He is also optimistic that public fund can leverage and mobilise institutional capital, as found by IRENA in its study last year. World Bank is going in that direction, to make sure that public policies are very much aligned with the direction of private investment to realise the energy transition that the world envisions.
Mr Todd Stern, Former Special Envoy for Climate Change, USA said “the consensus to hold temperature to 1.5 degree Celsius is creating the pressure for all of us to get to net-zero by 2050,” he stated. Mr Stern progressed to outline that he expects the US to be coming back aggressively with a robust climate end energy plans under under President-elect Biden. A large green recovery programme will be in place with a core focus on energy transition. The targets will include achieving climate neutrality by 2050, 100 per cent clean electricity by 2035 and a focus on just transition. “It is ambitious, but I think it is doable,” affirms Stern. “It is a very positive picture in the US. The focus on climate change has never been this high.”
Ms Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO, Special Representative of the UNSG for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy underlines the importance of energy transition for all – transition that does not leave anyone behind. IRENA is a key part of the dialogue on energy transition moving forward. ” We are all connected and we are not on track,” she said. “It is important that we globally come together and play our part to get people out from energy poverty and create a sustainable energy pathway forward,” she concluded.
UAE Energy Minister Suhail al Mazrouei says the UAE is a true believer in the need for transition. He notes that the UAE is targeting 44 per cent renewables by 2030 and an additional 6 per cent from nuclear. The Minister notes that the Emirates is currently updating their energy strategy and that he is ‘excited’ by the falling costs of renewables being witnessed in the UAE. “I expect, given the prices that I am seeing, we may increase our targets for renewable energy.”
Energy Transition is the current issue in view of sustainable development and post-COVID19 recovery, said H.E. Ms Mila Aziable, Minister Delegate to the President of the Republic in charge of Energy and Mines, Togo. Renewables are more crucial than ever before to strive new technologies and decentralised electrification at affordable price, she concluded.
In his intervention, H.E. Mr João Pedro Matos Fernandes, Minister for Environment and Climate Action, Portugal said the country is fully aligned with European mission. He underlined that already 57% of electricity generation in 2019 was renewable, and the country very successfully launched solar PV auctions and is involved in efforts to scale up production of green hydrogen needed for decarbonisation of hard to abate sectors.
H.E. Ms Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy, European Union, stated that when it comes to energy, we don’t have to go back to normal. Our old normal has been leading us to irreversible damage to our planet. By investing into renewable energy sources, we want to reduce energy costs, improve air quality, create jobs and become a powerhouse for clean energy innovation.
Ms Simson emphasised that the path towards global energy transition is full of challenges especially since COVID-19, but this is where a strong cooperation is needed. There is a plan in Europe to give strong support to green hydrogen, as it will help accelerate the pace of the transition.
H.E. Mr Aziz Rabbah, Minister of Energy, Mines and Environment, Morocco, said that the government is convinced that renewable energy can help solve the problem of energy access in his country. Morocco is increasing cooperation with other countries to support each other in scaling up renewables.
Andreas Feicht, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Germany, outlined how this crisis is a challenge, but it also provides a refreshing momentum for clean energy transition. IRENA plays the leading role in this momentum as renewables have become more and more effective and efficient around the world, he underlined.
He progress to show how renewables have been our number one size for generating electricity in Germany. Yet, it is not time to bring energy transition to other industries and sectors. The government of Germany is convinced that green hydrogen can be the key for full decarbonisation. That is why Germany has created a framework to create and advance the market for green hydrogen, he concluded.
In her remarks, H.E. Ms Andrea Meza, Minister of Energy and Environment, Costa Rica shared how energy transition can accelerate the economic growth in our countries. Costa Rica has just finished a process of updating NDCs, with the national goal to achieve 100% renewable energy in energy mix without putting energy security at risk. The country is demonstrating it is possible already with 99% renewables in its energy mix in 2019. Ms Meza underlined that country is now promoting electrification of mobility “good for the economy, good for the people, good for the environment.”
H.E. Mr Raj Kumar Singh tells the IRENA Assembly that “My vision is to electrify India’s economy and to green our energy. We plan 11-12 million electric vehicles by 2030. We are a large country that is growing rapidly – this growth provides us with the space for a rapid transition. Indeed, we have the fastest growing renewable energy capacity in the world today.”
Assembly President Teresa Ribera, Deputy Prime Minister of Spain and Minister for Ecological Transition said all over the world, we are seeing countries pledging their climate neutrality goals by 2050. She notes that governments and societies are striving to deliver safer and more prosperous societies as we recover from this crisis. Ms. Ribera urges governments to prioritise a just, balanced, inclusive transition that is aligns global recovery efforts with climate goals.
UAE Climate Change and Environment Minister, Dr Abdullah Al Nuaimi reaffirms the UAE’s commitment to IRENA’s work and applauds the Agency’s growing influence around the world as the intergovernmental agency for the energy transformation, “IRENA has seen exceptional growth from 83 members to 163 members with a further 21 countries in the process of accession”.
The Minister also outlined that the UAE’s updated NDCs includes an aim to develop the region’s first commercial carbon capture, utilization and storage programme and to increase the share of clean energy to 50 per cent by 2050.
In his remarks, H.E. Mr Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General addresses the energy challenges that led to the establishment of the ‘High-level Dialogue on Energy’ to be convened in September, underlining the importance of SDG7: to achieve universal access to energy and IRENA’s role in driving energy transformation globally.