IRENA Assembly Establishes Global Commission on Geopolitics of Energy Transformation
UN Photo/Ariane Rummery
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The eighth session of the IRENA Assembly launched the Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation to inform policy makers on how the surge in renewable energy is changing the dynamics of cooperation and trade among nations.

In two ministerial round tables, Assembly participants discussed ways to accelerate renewable energy investment and potential synergies between transport electrification and renewable energy deployment.

The Assembly further considered how to scale up access to renewable energy finance for SIDS and considered challenges of specific renewable energy sources.

14 January 2018: The eighth session of the Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) launched the Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation and discussed renewable energy investment, synergies between transport electrification and renewable energy deployment and access to renewable energy finance for Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Supported by the Governments of Germany, Norway and the United Arab Emirates, the Global Commission will study the geopolitical implications of the surge in renewable energies in the context of global efforts to combat climate change. The members of the Commission will explore how renewable energies are changing the dynamics of cooperation and energy trade between nations.

“The geopolitical implications of energy transformation is becoming one of the most debated issues in the global energy agenda.” Ólafur Grímsson, Chair of the Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation

Headed by Ólafur Grímsson, former President of Iceland, the Commission will be composed of twelve experts in international energy and global security issues. Upon his nomination as chair, Grímsson stated that “the geopolitical implications of energy transformation is becoming one of the most debated issues in the global energy agenda,” noting the Commission will contribute to these discussions based on rigorous evidence and diverse perspectives to inform policy makers.

The eighth session of the IRENA Assembly also held two round tables on accelerating investment in renewable energies and to explore innovations and synergies between electrification of the transport sector and renewable energy. The round table on investments discussed the findings of a report titled, ‘Global Landscape of Renewable Energy Finance,’ which finds, among other conclusions, that to date major institutional and private investors have each contributed only 1% of global renewable energy investment in recent years. Participants debated how to move from a North-South perspective on renewable energy investment focused on official development assistance (ODA) towards a more holistic view of the energy mix as renewables deploy.

Participants to the round table on transportation and renewables considered how an increasingly electrified transport sector can accelerate the deployment of renewable energies, including through scaling up the use of renewables in powering electric vehicles. Participants highlighted that the falling cost of renewable energy generation and battery storage is rendering electric mobility concepts competitive. This is expected to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles for passenger mobility and goods transport. Members also considered how the convergence between electrification and digital technology could lead to a new “systems-driven” transportation paradigm based on autonomous vehicles. Delegates concluded that the energy transformation will require the pooling of knowledge, expertise and understanding to enable all countries to make informed choices about their energy future.

Other issues discussed during the Assembly include: the launch of a report on renewable energy power generation costs, which finds that all renewable energy sources will be cost-competitive with renewable energies by 2020; a high-level ministerial event on improving SIDS’ capacity to develop and finance renewable energy deployment; and discussions on specific renewable energy sources, such as geothermal energy, solar energy, sustainable use of biomass energy and renewable energy in the context of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Prior to the Assembly, IRENA organized two events gathering legislators and parliamentarians to discuss their respective roles in achieving the global energy transition and the SDGs. The Legislators Forum, titled ‘Renewable Energy – the Role of Legislators in Catalyzing Action to Accelerate the Energy Transformation,’ aimed to support dialogue among legislators from around the world on the policies and legislation required to accelerate the deployment of renewable energies. Participants also discussed how to increase ambition regarding renewable energy targets in NDCs.

The Parliamentary Forum, jointly organized with the Federal National Council (FNC) of the United Arab Emirates, discussed how to strengthen engagement with the private sector in SDG implementation, with a special focus on the food-energy nexus and linkages between energy access and the SDGs.

The eighth session of the Assembly of IRENA was held 13-14 January 2018, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Held annually, the Assembly provides strategic guidance to IRENA’s work, aiming to position the Agency to play a key role in driving the global energy transformation. The Legislators Forum took place on 12 January, and the Parliamentary Forum convened on 11 January. [IRENA Press Release: Global Commission on Geopolitics of Energy Transformation] [IRENA Press Release: Assembly] [Assembly Live Blog] [IRENA Press Release: Renewable Energy Investment] [IRENA Press Release. Transportation] [IRENA Press Release. SIDS] [IRENA Press Release. Legislators Forum and Parliamentary Forum]


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