The UN’s climate change chief, Christiana Figueres, has today issued a heartfelt plea for businesses to support the push for a global climate change agreement, arguing they are crucial to the success of any deal reached in Paris later this year.
Writing for BusinessGreen as part of the site’s new content hub, Figueres said the long-running negotiations to deliver a new international climate change treaty had entered an exciting new phase whereby businesses and governments were no longer stuck in a deadlock over who should act first to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
“The historical catch 22 around who should act first on climate change – governments or businesses – has finally been broken,” she said. “What we are now witnessing is a “co-responding” effort from both the public and private sector, responding to the reality that green growth and a wider understanding of what is wealth, is the growth-engine of the future.”
Figueres insisted she was increasingly confident a deal can be reached at the Paris Summit at the end of the year, in part because 46 nations have now submitted detailed climate action plans ahead of the talks and in part because of “the rising ambition and action of companies and investors”.
“At the close of this year, we can be confident we will have that new agreement which needs to put the world on track to a low carbon economy by charting a defining and definitive course towards limiting a global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celcius this century,” she writes.
Figueres also argued that the long-term plans for governments and businesses are more aligned than ever. “Governments, through decisive and bold action – such as the recent announcement by the leaders of the G7 countries to phase out the use of fossil fuels by the end of this century – are signalling that investment in green technology is a sure bet as the world transitions to a low-emission economy,” she said. “Similarly, companies that recognise that climate action makes good business sense are committing to invest in innovative technologies, which are transforming the energy market.”
However, Figueres argued businesses could support the summit further by signing up to cross-industry commitments to curb their greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impacts.
“Ultimately, one of the most compelling ways that businesses can build the will for a climate agreement is by signing up to initiatives that are truly transformational in terms of putting us on a trajectory towards steeply declining emissions such that in the second half of the century everyone can live and breathe in a climate-neutral world,” she writes. “This can mean setting a target for 100 per cent renewable energy use, committing to include climate change information in financial reports, or calling for a price on carbon – as six major European oil and gas companies did last month.”
Businesses are expected to play a key role at the Paris Summit where governments from around the world are planning to finalise an emissions reduction treaty that would then come into effect from 2020.
The treaty is expected to be based on a system of national climate action plans, known as INDCs, and as a result will have a major impact on national economies and policy regimes. Businesses will be expected to deliver on the national emissions reduction commitments through clean tech investments and new business processes. Meanwhile, the private sector is also expected to play a key role in delivering on a previous international commitment to mobilise up to $100bn of investment a year in helping poorer nations tackle climate change.
Growing numbers of business have voiced their support for the UN’s goals, arguing an international climate change agreement will help reduce climate-related risks for businesses, drive green growth, and create a level playing field between different jurisdictions.
Figueres stressed that the support of the private sector will be crucial if any UN agreement is prove a success. “We are counting on the business community to acknowledge their role in this new trend toward sustainability, seize the opportunity at hand and to work with their countries and their communities as we seek to mitigate the effects of climate change; build more resilient societies and help move every man, woman and child into a more healthy and prosperous future,” she wrote.
The UN’s latest intervention came on the same day a major new study from Grantham Institute argued that economics is no longer a barrier to tackling climate change. It claimed almost all measures to curb global temperature rise to under two degrees will bring a net economic benefit to individual countries.
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A zero carbon scenario, grid autonomy and wheeling will be some of the fascinating talking points for energy industry experts who gather at the Sustainable Energy Seminar. This two day conference takes place on 24 and 25
June 2015 during the annual alive2green Sustainability Week at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria.
The process of adding electricity to the grid in one place and taking it out at another, commonly known as wheeling, has been dubbed a potential catalyst for South Africa’s transition to renewable energy – could this approach open the flood gates? As energy producers gain direct access to end users by wheeling their clean energy through the Eskom grid, the market begins to open up, allowing market forces to push efficiencies up and prices down.
The possibilities opening up for gas generation, both at the utility and on site scale and the prospect of reducing national Green House Gas emissions is beginning to look highly possible, if not probable. Strategies to achieve grid autonomy through efficiency and on site generation will be discussed at this year’s Sustainable Energy Seminar, a not-to-be-missed event, attracting the country’s leading experts in sustainable energy.
“There is an urgent need to reduce fossil fuel dependency, reduce our carbon footprint and diversify the energy mix and supply. Renewable energy is an attractive solution to many problems, the most important of these being security of supply, because resources are abundant and sustainable with the advantage of relatively quick implementation times, creation of work opportunities and a lower long-term impact on the environment,” says Dr Karen Surridge-Talbot, Centre Manager for the Renewable Energy Centre of Research and Development (RECORD) at the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI). Surridge-Talbot will share insights from SANEDI’s flagship projects at the Seminar.
South Africa has one of the best solar regimes in the world and the question is how best to harness this renewable energy resource. Dr Chris Haw, Director of Aurora Power Group and the co-founder of the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association will discuss solar energy for commercial energy users with helpful case studies from his experience at SOLA Future Energy.
Valuable insights about redox flow batteries will be shared by Mulilo project engineer, Tim Crombie and Etienne Gerber, technical head at Mitochondria Energy Company (Pty) Ltd will discuss hydrogen fuel cells. Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz from the CSIR will speak about the council’s integrated energy initiative and opportunities for renewables in South Africa.
The Sustainable Energy Seminar will include riveting discussions on renewable energy generation potential versus the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP) programme, wheeling, natural gas as an alternative energy source in South Africa, autonomy from Eskom – going off the grid and sustainable energy at city scale. Each session in the Sustainable Energy Seminar will begin with an expert panel of 20 minute presentations, followed by a question and answer session with input from the audience.
“We have a crucial role to play in enabling the transition from a carbon-intensive economy to more efficient low-carbon alternatives. The reduction of electricity consumption and increased rollout of renewable energy alternatives is a critical aspect of this transition,” says Dr Marco Lotz, Sustainability Carbon Specialist of Nedbank Group.
The Sustainable Energy Seminar, sponsored by Nedbank, SANEDI, UNIDO, BASF, Massbuild and Participate Technologies forms part of the larger Sustainability Week, organised by alive2green, which runs from 23 to 28 June 2015. Affiliated partners of the Sustainable Energy Seminar include: PIESA, SESSA, SAEE, REEEP, TAPPSA, SAAEA and NBI.
Sustainability Week is hosted by the City of Tshwane which has a vision to become a low carbon, resource efficient and climate resilient city by 2055. Executive Mayor of Tshwane Councillor Kgosientso Ramogkopa said, “Sustainability Week is a vital gathering for experts and leaders alike to champion urban sustainability for future generations. Energy efficiency is at the heart of this challenge – it cannot be overlooked.”
For more information on Sustainability Week, visit www.sustainabilityweek.co.za.
Book your seat for the Sustainable Energy Seminar taking place at Sustainability Week on 24-25 June 2015
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