COP21: saving energy 'triple win,' Ban says, as $5 billion Africa plan launched at climate summit

Solar energy panels in Mali. Photo: World Bank/Curt Carnemark

7 December 2015 – The United Nations and partners launched today a $5 billion initiative to expand renewable energy capacity in Africa as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the UN climate change conference (COP21) in Paris that saving energy is a triple-win in the battle against global warming.

“The production and use of energy is responsible for more than half of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. That means energy is also more than half of the solution. We need sustainable energy to reduce global greenhouse emissions and avert the risks of runaway climate change,” Mr. Ban said, stressing that clean energy is equally important for ending extreme poverty.

“Saving energy is a triple-win solution. It can save money, reduce emissions, and provide additional energy capacity,” he added, noting that renewable energy technologies are becoming cheaper and more competitive, with many people accessing energy for the first time thanks to solar panels, wind turbines or small hydro power plant.

“But, to replicate this experience for billions more people, we will need finance,” he declared.

“Let us build on these bold initiatives. A global energy transformation must reduce heat-trapping emissions. It also needs to ensure that we leave no one behind. Those things can only be achieved if we tackle the issues of energy access, energy efficiency, and renewable energy together as a trinity.”

COP21 held a thematic day on energy today, with the Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4All), a multi-stakeholder partnership backed by the UN and World Bank, urging Governments, businesses and financial institutions to act much faster and go much further to meet the ambitious goals of ensuring sustainable energy for all while keeping the global temperature rise within 2 degrees Celsius.

SE4All is acting as a catalyst for a huge global movement for revolutionary change in the world's energy systems, helping to build working alliances across the public sector, private sector and civil society and foster innovative policies, technologies and financing mechanisms.

Any rise of more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels by 2050 will have an ever more dangerous impact on planet Earth with devastating droughts, floods and storms, and rising seas swallowing up ever more low-lying land.

The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative to expand renewable capacity by 2020 and achieve universal access was just one of several launched today.

The Initiative is led by the African Union's NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development) the African Group of Negotiators, the African Development Bank, the UN Environment Program (UNEP), and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

At least $5 billion in public and highly concessional finance between 2016 and 2020 from bilateral, multilateral and other sources, including the Green Climate Fund, will be needed to leverage a further $15 billion in other investments, for a total investment of at least $20 billion pre-2020.

Other initiatives launched today included efforts to improve access to electricity and energy efficiency, and promote renewable energy.

Hundreds of Governments, businesses and financial institutions pledged major action on energy efficiency, recognizing it as the basis of the energy transition.

More than 100 banks and a group of investors, managing close to $4 trillion in assets, committed to a major increase in energy efficiency lending in their portfolios. Led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the UNEP Finance Initiative, this is a major undertaking toward the four-fold increase needed to realize the full energy efficiency potential for climate change.

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