Building Global Momentum for Sustainable Energy as Polar Sea Ice Hits Record Lows
UN Photo/Pasqual Gorriz
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According to NASA, Arctic ice appears to be at a new record low for its wintertime maximum extent and the Antarctic measured at its lower extent ever as the end of the Southern hemisphere’s summer approaches.

A group of major renewable energy countries agreed to establish the Energy Transition Coalition, the Low Emissions Development Strategy Global Partnership (LEDS GP) has released its 2017 Work Plan, more US cities pledged to go 100% renewable, and the UN dimed its lights for Earth Hour.

28 March 2017: Amid observations of record low sea ice at both poles, and a US Executive Order rescinding the country’s previous climate policies, global momentum to realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change continues to build.

Worldwide commitments to a sustainable energy transition, a cornerstone of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, have taken many forms: a group of major renewable energy countries agreed to establish the Energy Transition Coalition; the Low Emissions Development Strategy Global Partnership (LEDS GP) released its 2017 Work Plan; more US cities pledged to go 100% renewable; and the UN dimmed its lights for Earth Hour. This Mitigation Update brings you news on these and other developments contributing to achieving SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy and SDG 13 on climate action. [US White House Press Release]

According to NASA, Arctic ice appears to be at a new record low for its wintertime maximum extent, and the Antarctic measured at its lowest extent ever as the end of the Southern hemisphere’s summer approaches. These observations are more bad news after data gathered in mid-February showed the combined Arctic and Antarctic sea ice numbers were at their lowest points since satellites began measuring sea ice in 1979. [NASA Press Release]

China, Denmark, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco and the United Arab Eremites (UAE) will collaborate to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy by bringing together countries to foster investment in a low carbon energy sector.

Making the transition to clean energy is key to efforts to address climate change. The past few weeks have brought various developments focused on accelerating this transition. During the Berlin Energy Transition dialogue, a group of renewable energy heavy weights agreed to establish the Energy Transition Coalition during the course of 2017. China, Denmark, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will collaborate to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy by bringing together countries to foster investment in a low carbon energy sector. By setting out energy transition strategies, the Coalition will seek to increase investor certainty in low carbon energy sources and, in turn, amplify investment in a sustainable energy future. [IRENA Press Release] [Berlin Energy Transition Website]

Clearly linking SDG 7 and the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the LEDS GP released its 2017 work plan. It details three outcomes for 2017, all oriented around low emissions development strategies (LEDS) and nationally determined contributions (NDCs). The LEDS GP seeks positive change in the influence and capability, and in the knowledge and attitudes of practitioners to realize ambitious, context-specific LEDS and NDCs. It also aims to improve the quality, relevance and usability of LEDS’ and NDCs’ evidence base. The LEDS GP will pursue these goals through several actions, including working with national and sub-national teams to progress their priority actions in their LEDS and NDCs, and working with first movers and donors to pilot innovative approaches. This latter approach could yield innovative examples of SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals). The LEDS GP foresees continued work to enhance access to knowledge, assist countries in applying knowledge, and improving and creating new knowledge products. [LEDS GP Work Plan]

In other energy news, but with a focus on the African continent, the African Development Bank (AfDB) is convening high-level discussions and partnerships during Energy Week, running from 27-31 March 2017, in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Energy Week features a series of events united by a goal to unlock the energy potential of the continent. The high-level workshop on energy access in West Africa kicks off Energy Week, and will communicate experiences, views and recommendations from the frontlines, from those working to realize off-grid energy access on the ground. The Off-Grid Revolution Expert Consultation Workshop brings together experts with the aim of agreeing on basic partnership arrangements across different stakeholder groups, to help realize the Bank’s goal of universal access to energy by 2025. Off-grid solutions aim to improve access to sustainable energy, in line with SDG target 7.1 (By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services). The third major event, the 4th Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Africa workshop will review progress of SE4ALL country actions in Africa and discuss ways to implement and finance priorities areas identified in SE4ALL Action Agendas. [AfDB Energy Week Webpage]

Energy access in Africa was also the focus of a workshop titled ‘Actualizing Mini-grid Policy and Advancing Universal Energy Access in Ghana,’ which gathered over 100 participants. Organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Government of Ghana, the workshop sought to foster discussion as a necessary step to scaling up the implementation of policies to facilitate mini-grids. Ultimately, the goal is to improve energy access in Ghana, where approximately 59% of rural communities lack access to electricity. [AfDB Press Release]

Clean energy developments also came from North America, with two US cities pledging to transition to 100% renewable energy, bringing their total to 25. Madison, Wisconsin, and Abita Springs, Louisiana, both became the first cities in their states to commit to sourcing power from renewable energy. They join a growing group of US cities, including San Diego, California, Salt Lake City, Utah, Georgetown, Texas, and Greensburg, Kansas, which have made such a pledge. [ClimateAction Press Release]

The UN participated in Earth Hour, observing the symbolic event’s tenth anniversary by dimming the lights at the UN Headquarters in New York, US and at other facilities around the world. Highlighting the need to address climate change, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, issued a call to join Earth Hour, saying “Governments and businesses must step up. So must individuals. Building a sustainable tomorrow depends today on everyone.” [UN Press Release]

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