At Lima climate talks, UN launches new coalition to promote renewable energy

A massive, over 7-metre-high balloon, representing one tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2). UN Photo/Mark Garten

10 December 2014 – The launch of a new coalition spearheaded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and focused on boosting renewable energy usage around the world was announced today as Member States head into the final three-day stretch of a major UN climate conference in Lima, Peru aimed at tackling the imminent threat of climate change.

Assembled amid an increase in global renewable energy initiatives and energy efficiency projects around the world, the 1 Gigaton Coalition was formed in response to a dearth in measurements and reporting on greenhouse gas emissions reductions which, UNEP explained, would help encourage the uptake of energy efficiency policies and renewable energy technologies.

In fact, according to the UN agency’s estimates, measurements of greenhouse gas emissions reductions would amount to about one gigaton a year by 2020, fully indicating the savings countries could make from the extensive usage of renewable energy.

“Our global economy could be $18 trillion better off by 2035 if we adopted energy efficiency as a first choice, while various estimates put the potential from energy efficient improvements anywhere between 2.5 and 6.8 gigatons of carbon per year by 2030,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner stated in a press release.

“To build the momentum and support required to achieve such savings, the climate and economic benefits of existing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects should be more widely recognized, instead of passing under the radar as they often do now,” he said.

UNEP spotlighted what it said was “significant evidence” of the financial rewards tied to energy efficiency. For instance, a global shift to energy-efficient appliances and equipment – from lighting and air conditioners to refrigerators and electric motors – would reduce overall electricity consumption by over 10 per cent saving $350 billion annually in bills and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 1.25 billion tonnes per year.

In addition, the agency said, new technologies spawned by the renewable energy sector also open up market opportunities and create new jobs. Between 2005 and 2014, employment in the renewables sector doubled from three million jobs to 6.5 million, according to estimates, providing greater incentives for Member States to confront the pressing challenge of climate change.

“Current and planned energy efficiency policies harness merely a third of the economically viable energy efficiency potential,” Mr. Steiner continued. “The 1 Gigaton Coalition will play a crucial role in making these contributions visible by measuring emissions reductions and reporting successes, thus building the case for scaling up of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.”

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