5 July 2016
G20, IEA, IRENA Examine Progress Toward Clean Energy Supply
UN Photo/Mark Garten
story highlights

Meeting on 29-30 June in Beijing, China, the Group of Twenty (G20) energy ministers focused on the expansion of energy access, alternative energy sources and energy efficiency.

Just prior to the ministerial meeting, on 28 June, the third meeting of the G20's Energy Sustainability Working Group also convened.


30 June 2016: Meeting on 29-30 June, in Beijing, China, the Group of Twenty (G20) energy ministers focused on the expansion of energy access, alternative energy sources and energy efficiency. Just prior to the ministerial meeting, on 28 June, the third meeting of the G20’s Energy Sustainability Working Group also convened.

International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director Fatih Birol delivered the keynote address at the Energy Ministerial, focusing on G20 priorities related to boosting energy access and energy sector investment, and transitioning to cleaner energy. In relation to these three priorities and air pollution, he highlighted that a 7% increase in investment in clean, modern energy technology to 2040 could save three million lives. This finding was published in the IEA Special Report on Energy and Air Pollution released on 27 June.

The Special Report, issued as part of IEA’s World Energy Outlook (WEO) series, creates a Clean Air Scenario that is attainable through pragmatic steps, using proven technologies and policies already well known to the energy sector.

Birol also touched on the Paris Agreement, emphasizing the need to share best practices in security of supply, energy market regulation and efficiency improvements in order to get on track to limit global temperature rise to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, as outlined in the Agreement’s objective.

The G20 Energy Ministers released a Communiqué at the meeting highlighting their plans for addressing energy access, building a cleaner energy future and advancing energy efficiency through the G20 Energy Efficiency Leading Programme (EELP). To these ends, Ministers also adopted an energy access roadmap, ‘Enhancing Energy Access in Asia and the Pacific: Key Challenges’ and a G20 Voluntary Collaboration Action Plan (also for energy access), as well as the G20 Voluntary Action Plan on Renewable Energy. While the Communiqué acknowledges the G20’s commitment dating back to 2009 to “rationalize and phase out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption,” it does not set a deadline for doing so, despite calls from many civil society groups leading up to the meeting.

On the margins of the G20 energy meeting, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) brought participants together to take stock of progress under the ‘G20 Toolkit of Voluntary Options for Renewable Energy Deployment.’ The toolkit, which is led by IRENA under the guidance of the Energy Sustainability Working Group, intends to mobilize finance for renewable energy deployment, while reducing costs and identifying opportunities.

IRENA reported progress in the five areas of focus in the toolkit. For example, on driving down technology costs, wind turbine costs have fallen by 30-40% and solar modules by 80% since 2009. On exchanging good practices on enabling policy frameworks and power system integration, the IRENA/IEA Policy and Measures Database contains more than 700 policies for G20 countries. On mobilizing finance through risk mitigation, IRENA released a report titled ‘Unlocking Renewable Energy Investment: The Role of Risk Mitigation and Structured Finance.’ On technology potentials and roadmaps, IRENA highlighted two reports, one assessing the feasibility, costs and benefits of doubling the global share of renewables by 2030, and the other identifying action areas for G20 policymakers to scale renewables at home. On deployment of modern bioenergy, a report was issued on ‘Boosting Biofuels: Sustainable Paths to Greater Energy Security.’

Concurrently with the first day of the Energy Ministers Meeting, the leaders of three G20 countries, Canada, Mexico and the US, met for the North American Leaders’ Summit. During the Summit, the three leaders announced the North American Climate, Clean Energy and Environment Partnership, which includes a joint goal of achieving 50% clean power generation by 2025.

The members of the G20 are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the US, and the EU. [IRENA Press Release] [G20 Chinese Presidency Calendar] [IISD RS Story on North American Climate, Clean Energy and Environment Partnership] [IEA Press Release, 30 June] [IEA Press Release, 27 June] [IEA Publication Webpage] [WEO Special Report 2016: Energy and Air Pollution][Communiqué]

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