As the international community works to ensure that the climate agreement will be inclusive, fair, and ambitious, the critical question on everyone's mind is “What's Next?”
Negotiators from more than 190 countries are meeting in Paris this week to reach a global climate agreement. As the international community works to ensure that the agreement will be inclusive, fair, and ambitious, the critical question on everyone’s mind is “What’s Next?”
The “Road to Paris” has involved a groundswell of climate pledges from around the world. Nearly all countries have submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) that outline their post-2020 climate mitigation actions. Large and smaller countries, more- and less-developed countries are all preparing to transition to a low-carbon pathway. On the critically important “Road from Paris” that will follow the climate negotiations, implementation will be a key next step.
If we are to successfully address climate change, it will be crucial to ramp-up policy and technical support for the implementation of clean energy goals that are part of countries’ INDCs. And yet, as they seek to do this, many governments face critical gaps in technical capacity, knowledge and information. Governments from around the world are also eager to learn from the experiences of other countries and to build on their successes and lessons learned.
While development assistance and other international agencies offer support in this area, most often this assistance is delivered through longer-term initiatives that can require a long application and planning process. However, the real-world policy process often requires immediate action and quick access to expertise.
The Clean Energy Solutions Center – an initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial – has been highly successful in helping to meet this critical need for real-time policy support through its no-cost “Ask an Expert” program. The Solutions Center has tapped leading global policy institutions to form a network of world-renowned clean energy experts who can provide unbiased, high-quality and – crucially – fast response support. The Solutions Center also enables peer learning by sharing examples of successful measures and conducting web seminars. To date, support through the Clean Energy Solutions Center has informed the design of over 160 specific policies and programs in 95 countries around the world.
The Ask an Expert service fills a critical niche in the policy implementation space, complementing the longer term and more in-depth work by development and other international agencies as well as Solutions Center partners such as the Climate Technology Center and Network (CTCN). Collaborating closely with these partners, the assistance provided by the Solutions Center can result in immediate improvements to policies and programs and also enable longer term support from partners. Notably, the Solutions Center is now expanding its services to provide advice on clean energy finance to help countries unlock the high levels of private and public investment needed to achieve ambitious goals.
There are many examples of Ask an Expert assistance that have resulted in important policy changes:
- The Solutions Center provided assistance to the Government of Malaysia that led to three distinct changes to its feed-in tariff (FIT) system, which resulted in policy amendments for biogas and biomass, solar PV, and geothermal power to improve the uptake of these technologies.
- The Solutions Center provided support to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member States to set regional and national sustainable energy targets in the CARICOM Energy Policy. In March 2013, CARICOM approved the Energy Policy, which included renewable energy targets of 20% in 2017, 28% in 2022 and 47% in 2027.
- The Solutions Center assisted the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) with the design of a regulation to promote energy efficiency in commercial buildings. The regulation, adopted in November 2013, is part of the South African National Energy Efficiency Strategy to improve energy efficiency by 15% in the commercial building sector.
- Other examples include assistance with appliance standards and labeling programs, cool surface policies and building certification rating incentives in Mexico – that were also involved in the design of the new Finance Solutions Center; assistance with the design of the renewable energy policy framework in Nicaragua; and assistance with supporting energy access through rural electrification business models in Chad.
As these examples demonstrate, getting policies right through high-quality, timely expert assistance is crucial to advancing our global clean energy economy. It is also very cost-effective. At its current funding level of roughly $2 million per year, the Solutions Center produces an enormous amount of leverage in terms of the policy assistance delivered.
But more can be done, and the impact and scale of this work should be expanded to match the global demand for policy support. That is why, at the sixth Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM6) held in Mexico earlier this year, CEM member countries committed to scaling up the Solutions Center to meet the imminent, substantial need for policy support.
CEM ministers have pledged their support to help the Solutions Center scale up. New funding from Sweden and in-kind contributions of new experts from Mexico and Canada, for example, will bolster the longstanding support provided by Australia and the US.
As the world readies itself to reach an international global climate agreement that will help transition us to a low-carbon pathway, the Solutions Center stands ready to help turn countries’ clean energy ambitions into clean energy reality.
The Clean Energy Solutions Center can be accessed at https://cleanenergysolutions.org/