Today’s Top of the COP: The Energy Transition

A rapid transformation of the global energy system is underway and accelerating. By Climate Champions | November 4, 2021
  • 44 countries, and 32 companies and regions, have signed COP26 President Alok Sharma’s statement on transitioning from coal to clean power.
  • The Powering Past Coal Alliance welcomes seven new subnational governments, three new energy companies and 11 new financial institutions committed to end unabated coal power, in addition to six countries.
  • The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance previews today, before launching on 10 November. It is an international coalition of governments and stakeholders working together to facilitate the managed phaseout of oil and gas production.
  • Effective deep decarbonization will be equitable: The Africa Green Hydrogen Alliance and LatAm Green Hydrogen Alliance launch today with countries and industry leaders from their regions to accelerate zero carbon industry development.
  • The Green Hydrogen Catapult’s collaboration is driving the cost of green hydrogen production across a key tipping point to below $2/kg, having increased that production target from 25GW to 45GW over the past year, with an emphasis on a global approach to scaling green hydrogen production in developing and developed countries.
  • Twelve countries commit to the largest increase ever in product efficiency. A global goal of doubling the efficiency of lighting, cooling, motors and refrigeration by 2030 with support from the Climate Group’s EP100 initiative of 129 businesses.
  • The Global Energy Alliance for People & Planet, which is mobilizing at least US$10 billion for the rollout of renewable electricity for a billion people by 2030, today will issue a call for transformational country programmes to unleash a robust pipeline of projects.
  • The plan of establishing a Global Offshore Wind Alliance in 2022 is announced today, rallying governments and the private sector to join forces to increase offshore wind ambitions and implementation towards 2030 and beyond.
  • The new International Sustainability Standards Board to develop a global baseline for high-quality sustainability disclosure standards in the public interest, marks the start of radical collaboration between leading investor-focused sustainability disclosure organizations consolidating into one board. Work begins by June 2022.
  • The Race to Zero’s power producers aim to reach over 750GW of renewable energy by 2030 and a breakthrough in ambition has been reached in demand for renewable electricity.
  • Ten pharmaceutical companies are joining forces to cut indirect emissions by shifting to renewable energy. The pharmaceutical and medical technology sector has hit the Race to Zero campaign’s breakthrough in ambition towards halving emissions within the 2020s.
  • A high-level event on Friday – Destination 2030 – will explore what’s necessary to halve emissions between 2020 and 2030 and keep the 1.5°C limit within reach – and what’s possible and already underway. The event, in the Plenary Cairngorn from 2-3:30pm, features COP26 President Alok Sharma, former US Vice President Al Gore, High-Level Climate Champions Nigel Topping and Gonzalo Muñoz and WRI Vice President and Regional Director for Africa Wanjira Mathai, among other speakers.

Steps towards the end of coal 

Coal to clean: In Sharma’s statement on transitioning from coal to clean power, released today, government and private sector signatories call for 1) A rapid scale-up of clean power generation; 2) A transition from coal power; 3) An end to construction of new unabated coal-fired power plants; 4) A just and inclusive transition for workers and communities. It’s been signed by 44 countries and 32 companies and regions.

Signatory countries include Canada, Chile, Germany, Poland, Spain, Ukraine and Vietnam. Companies include Portugal’s EDP, Spain’s Iberdrola, the US’ PSEG, India’s Renew Power, China’s Envision and the UK’s RES – all Race to Zero members.

In addition, seven subnational governments, three energy companies and 11 financial institutions have today joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance, committing to phase out unabated coal power, along with six countries. Together, the now 33 finance members of the Alliance account for over US$17 trillion in assets.

→Why it matters: To reach net zero emissions before 2050 and limit warming to 1.5°C, the IPCC has found that global coal emissions need to have peaked in 2020 and that OECD nations need to end coal use by 2030 followed by the rest of the world by 2040 (Climate Analytics).

Following the IEA’s Oil & Gas Phaseout Trajectory 

Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA): This international coalition of governments and stakeholders working together to facilitate the managed phase-out of oil and gas production previews today  and launches on 10 November. Led by the governments of Denmark and Costa Rica, the coalition aims to elevate the issue of oil and gas production phaseout in international climate dialogues, mobilize action and commitments from national and subnational governments and create an international community of practice on the issue.

→Why it matters: There is no room to approve new oil and gas fields for development in a world that limits global warming to 1.5°C, according to the International Energy Agency. Yet current government plans for fossil fuel extraction would by 2030 lead to more than double the production allowed under that pathway. In a decarbonized economy by 2050, energy use will be primarily electric, with at least 80% coming from renewable sources and all from zero-carbon sources, according to the Marrakech Partnership’s Climate Action Pathway on energy. To reach net-zero by 2050, oil and gas production must fall by 40% by 2030 compared to 2019, according to the Race to Zero 2030 Breakthroughs.

Big Boost for Green Hydrogen

Africa and LatAm green hydrogen alliances: Launched today with six African countries and five Latin American countries, with the support of global industry leaders, these alliances will collaborate on strategy development, regulatory constructs, financing mechanisms, and certification. They aim to kickstart development of millions of metric tons production of reliably near-zero-carbon green hydrogen to be used in domestic and international industries worldwide.

Green Hydrogen Catapult: A coalition of companies launched a year ago, the Catapult is today announcing new membership and launching collaborations to boost the scale of green hydrogen deployment to more than 45GW by 2027. Catapult analysis suggests that it could take far less than 25GW electrolysis to reach well below $2/kg, but that required policy interventions to build markets are not yet in place. To realize this target, the Catapult and partners are also working to mobilize and accelerate project development in the steel and shipping sectors.

→Why it matters: Green hydrogen, made from renewables, can fill some of the gap, particularly in heavy industry and heavy transport sectors like shipping and steel. According to the 2030 Breakthroughs, green hydrogen and its derivative fuels will become the source of choice compared to fossil fuel rivals if the price drops to US$2/kg and capacity and policy support end-user commitments deliver mass-scale production by mid-decade. Production capacity deployment of 15-25GW represents a tipping point for production of 500-800 million tonnes by 2050.

Clean Energy Rollout 

Call to action on product efficiency: Twelve countries, including India, Nigeria, Brazil, Germany and Japan commit to the global goal of doubling product efficiency by 2030 with a focus on products that consume over 40% of global electricity – air-conditioners, refrigerators, motors and lighting. The commitment is supported by the Climate Group’s EP100 initiative of 129 businesses and partners including the Super-Efficient Appliance and Equipment Deployment programme, the International Energy Agency, Clasp and the UN Environment Programme. The doubling goal was endorsed by 20 civil society organizations.

Global Energy Alliance for People & Planet (GEAPP): $10 billion has been committed to roll out clean energy in Africa, Asia and Latin America within the 2020s. First announced on Tuesday, GEAPP today issued a call for transformational country programmes, seeking to partner with countries to unleash a robust pipeline of projects that can be aggregated, replicated, and scaled. The alliance will offer financial and technical assistance to countries with the vision, commitment, and the highest level of leadership to advance major national programmes in fossil fuel transitioning, grid-based renewables and distributed renewable energy.

Global Offshore Wind Alliance: A new alliance of governments, international organizations and the private sector will aim to facilitate the scaling up of offshore wind energy capacity as a key technology in the energy transition. Offshore wind can deliver huge amounts of flexible power generation and become an important source of green hydrogen production and liquefied green fuels. But its potential has not yet been unlocked. The GOWA objective will be to raise ambition and spur implementation of offshore wind worldwide through strengthened public-private collaboration. Initiated by: Denmark, the International Renewable Energy Agency and Global Wind Energy Council.

Race to Zero clean power breakthroughs: Over 20% of major companies by revenue have now committed to using 100% renewable electricity by 2050, although the average company is aiming for 2028 (RE100). Meanwhile, electricity companies in the Race to Zero aim to reach over 750GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2030 – enough to provide power to almost 1 billion people. And the global wind and solar industries are coming together to work with governments and international institutions to get on track for net zero, and the Race to Zero’s 2030 Breakthroughs.

→Why it matters: To fully decarbonize power by 2040, renewables need to make up 60% of global electricity by 2030, with 40% covered by solar and wind, according to the sector’s 2030 Breakthrough outcome.

Health Care Goes Green 

Health care commits to net-zero: The number of health care institutions in the Race to Zero campaign has grown to 54 health systems in 21 countries, representing 14,268 hospitals and health care centres.

Pharma tackles indirect emissions with renewable energy collaboration: Today’s launch of the Energize programme, designed by Schneider Electric and convened by partner Carnstone, is a first-of-its-kind collaboration across 10 major pharmaceutical companies to cut emissions across their value chains with renewable energy. It marks an important step in tackling the pharma sector’s indirect scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions. The companies in the Energize programme include: AstraZeneca, Biogen, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, MSD, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Sanofi, Takeda. The Race to Zero now counts 31% of pharma and med tech companies by revenue in its membership.

→Why it matters: The health care sector is responsible for 4.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. It could cut emissions by 44Gt over 36 years by shifting to full renewable power, investing in zero-emission buildings and transport and incentivizing and producing low-carbon pharmaceuticals, according to Health Care Without Harm.

Gonzalo Muñoz and Nigel Topping, High Level Climate Action Champions: ​​“With 80% growth in their capacity commitment—from 25 to 45 gigawatts of electrolysis—in one year, the Green Hydrogen Catapult and its members demonstrate the near-term potential for exponential growth in green hydrogen, enabled by local and global policy support and rapidly growing customer interest.”

Gonzalo Muñoz and Nigel Topping, High Level Climate Action Champions: “It is fantastic to see the ambition in renewables deployment, with Race to Zero members committing to reaching over 750GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2030. This will only grow as more energy companies join the Race to Zero emissions, and decarbonisation ambitions continue to increase, reflecting the exponential progress we have seen to date in the sector.”