On Energy Action Day, nations, the private sector, cities and international organizations announced major new initiatives on greening urban energy, the phasing out of oil and gas, and promoting hydrogen as a clean fuel. The virtual event, which took place ahead of the UN High-Level Dialogue on Energy, aimed to accelerate collective action towards net-zero and climate-resilient energy systems. The Energy Action Day was jointly hosted by Denmark, IRENA, UNEP and the World Economic Forum.
"We have less than nine years to go. Nine years to achieve the goal of ensuring clean energy for all. We have no time to waste if we want to keep 1.5 degrees within reach. We have to start today: raise our ambitions, learn from each other and speed up our green efforts. Denmark hosted this Energy Action Day so we can do precisely this," Mette Frederiksen, Danish Prime Minister, stated in her opening remarks.
Coming just two months before the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the event saw the launch of the Urban Energy Coalition and the Green Hydrogen Compact Catalogue and an announcement on the creation of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) amongst others.
COP26 President Designate the Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, delivered a call to action to all countries to consign coal to history in Glasgow by phasing out existing coal power plants, committing to no new coal power plants, putting an end to international coal financing, instead working to scale up clean power alternatives.
"Ahead of COP26 and at the summit itself, we need governments to make those strong, clear commitments to end polluting coal generation and prioritise clean power. We urge countries to put an end to coal power, by phasing out existing plants, committing not to build any new ones, and putting an end to international coal finance.
And we need all investors, acting on our shared responsibility, to protect our planet. And we need to keep building up the international collaboration, at COP26 and indeed beyond it to accelerate the clean energy revolution over this vital decade," he stated.
Energy transition key to better future
As highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last month, humanity's continued dependence on fossil fuels is warming the world. The consequences – such as droughts, wildfires and floods – are already here and will only intensify without action. The energy sector accounts for approximately 65 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, which need to be halved by 2030 and eliminated by 2050 to stay on track to head off the worst impacts of climate change. Meanwhile, over 750 million people lack access to electricity and 2.6 billion still cook and heat with wood, charcoal, and other unhealthy fuels.
"Today, hundreds of millions of people struggle with energy poverty. We must provide everyone with energy equity and connectivity. The IPCC has sounded a code red for humanity. We must urgently and rapidly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, otherwise the same people will suffer the most on hothouse Earth", said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). "The new initiatives announced at Energy Action Day are important steps towards achieving the transition."
The Green Hydrogen Compact Catalogue
Hydrogen produced with renewable energy can play a key role in energy transition, as a sustainable, carbon neutral fuel. In order to achieve targets of net zero emissions, increasing the uptake of green hydrogen will be critical.
The Green Hydrogen Compact Catalogue is a collection of commitments by a broad range of stakeholders that will contribute to accelerating the development of a green hydrogen ecosystem and value chain.
By showcasing action, the Catalogue aims to spark dialogue and collaboration among stakeholders and to inspire further commitments. The Catalogue is a result of a broad and inclusive partnership among key countries, international organizations and the private sector.
"In the coming decade, there are tremendous opportunities in accelerating the energy transition," said Francesco La Camera, IRENA's Director-General, "with co-benefits on energy security, energy access for all, high quality jobs, improved health through clean air and a safe climate.
The revolution in the energy sector driven by falling renewable costs is opening new possibilities for end-use and green hydrogen. I am convinced that with today's announcements, including the Green Hydrogen Compact Catalogue, we will raise ambition and drive collective action under the UN High-Level Dialogue on Energy to ensure all countries and regions can realise the benefits of the global energy transition."
Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA)
Ministers from Costa Rica and Denmark announced that they are leading the work to create an ambitious Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) to promote a phased transition away from the unstainable supply of oil and gas.
"Science has made it clear - the fossil era needs to come to an end. This is why we in Denmark have set an end date for oil and gas production and why Denmark and Costa Rica are building an alliance of countries willing to address the unstainable supply of oil and gas. Now we urge other governments to join us," stated Dan Jørgensen, Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities.
"Fossil fuels are, by far, the largest contributor to climate change, accounting for over 75% of all greenhouse gases. Science is clear that it is imperative to limit their supply and set an end for oil and gas production. Almost 20 years ago, Costa Rica took the brave decision to ban oil and gas exploration and exploitation. Now, along with Denmark we are calling other governments to join BOGA and move away from oil and gas", said Andrea Meza Murillo, Minister for Environment and Energy of Costa Rica.
The Urban Energy Coalition
Cities are, in many cases, driving much-needed innovation in the energy system, taking advantage of their unique role as planners and managers of infrastructure to integrate energy systems across buildings, transport, heating/cooling, industry, and power grids. Their actions deliver improved efficiency, circularity and greater use of renewables.
The Urban Energy Coalition was launched by UNEP, the European Commission, Global Covenant of Mayors, World Economic Forum (WEF) and REN21 – with the potential participation of the European Commission through Mission Innovation, to provide a joined-up approach to support cities on energy and innovation.
The goal is to provide cities with practical framework and tools to deploy integrated energy solutions at scale. WEF, a member of the Coalition for Urban Energy, also launched the beta version of the 'Toolbox of Solutions' which provides best practice and case studies on clean electrification, efficiency and smart infrastructure across energy, buildings, and mobility.