More than 20 countries from six continents met recently at the sixth Clean Energy Ministerial, or CEM, in Mérida, Mexico and discussed a path forward to accelerate a global clean energy revolution that is already underway. Underpinning this revolution are technology innovation and increasing market share that combine to drive down clean energy costs.
The countries that met in Mexico may have different priorities for advancing clean energy while fostering economic growth – addressing climate change, increasing fuel diversity and energy security, eliminating air and water pollution, lowering energy costs for remote communities, and, for many, all of the above. What we all agree on is the importance of supporting the rapid growth of our global clean energy economy, in particular, energy efficiency and a diversity of renewable resources such as solar, wind, hydro, sustainable biomass, and geothermal.
Founded in 2009, the CEM advances cooperation on clean energy among a group of countries encompassing around 90 percent of global clean energy investment. Having tasted success over the first five years, our countries and the European Commission are the inaugural members of a new CEM steering committee that will help guide the effort into a more ambitious stage of “CEM 2.0.”
Here are just two examples of CEM success to date. Drawing upon collaboration in the CEM, India became the first country in the world to comprehensively set quality and performance standards for super-efficient LED lighting, potentially avoiding the equivalent of 90 coal-fired power plants of emissions. Since 2011, the CEM’s Clean Energy Solutions Center has provided no-cost, high-quality, and real-time expert advice to more than 80 countries around the world. For example, the Solutions Center helped Caribbean countries set an ambitious sustainable energy target of 47 percent for 2027 that will help reduce their dependence on expensive oil-fired electricity generation.
We know that we can do more, and our Merida Ministerial set us on this course:
We kicked off a Global Lighting Challenge to set in motion a race to collectively reach cumulative sales of 10 billion high-efficiency, high-quality, affordable advanced lighting products. If we were to replace the world’s existing lighting with these products, we could save hundreds of billions of dollars and reduce annual CO2 emissions by over 500 million metric tons. The enabler of near-term success in this challenge is the technology innovation that has lowered LED costs by a factor of 10 in just a few years. If we can continue this trend, our target may soon prove to be too modest!
We created a new Power System Challenge that will help us toward the clean, efficient, and reliable electricity grids of the future and to increased access. A big part of this effort is likely to be more widespread use of micro-grids and information technology for system reliability and resilience.
We also received new commitments to help significantly scale-up the Clean Energy Solutions Center with a wider network of technical advisors and with a new Finance Portal to provide access to the world’s best clean energy finance expertise – quite literally turning policy into practice.
And U.S. President Obama announced that the United States would host next year’s ministerial, and China announced its intention to host the following one, demonstrating the commitment to clean energy by the world’s two largest economies and carbon emitters.
With the active leadership of the world’s largest countries behind it, CEM 2.0 stands ready to accelerate global progress on clean energy. In this way, the CEM complements the international climate change discussions by serving as a premier forum to efficiently help each other achieve our respective clean energy goals and to promote global clean energy solutions.
The time is ripe to further deploy clean energy technologies and policies as well as to boost investment by mobilizing all sources of financing, public and private. New investments in renewables, energy efficiency, and smart grids will not happen without a huge concerted effort in this field. The CEM platform can help in this respect.
We are in the midst of a global clean energy revolution. Amidst China’s newly installed capacity of 94 million kilowatts in 2013, about 60 percent came from non-fossil energy sources. India has announced an ambitious target to scale-up its renewable energy capacity from 30 gigawatts presently to 175 gigawatts by 2022. Mexico in 2015 reached 22.8 percent of its power generation from clean energy technologies, and has set a target of 35 percent by 2024. The European Union has reduced primary energy consumption in 2013 by 15.5 percent compared to 2020 projections and with full implementation and monitoring of already-adopted energy efficiency legislation can achieve its 20 percent energy efficiency target in 2020.
By working together, we will accelerate this revolution. Our economies all need to be bolstered and all of our citizens need to be served by affordable clean energy and by the clean energy jobs of the future. And our shared climate urgently needs these advancements.
Signatories (in alphabetical order by country)
- Wan Gang, Minister of Science and Technology, People’s Republic of China
- Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, European Commission
- Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, France
- Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy, India
- Pedro Joaquín Coldwell, Secretary of Energy, Mexico
- Suhail Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy, United Arab Emirates
- Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy, United States
Article originally published in Times of India, July 31st 2015