New Opportunities for Climate Action

Source: M. (Maroš) Sefčovič i, published on Thursday, June 8 2017.

By Maroš Šefčovič & Bertrand Piccard - The effort to combat climate change has overcome a great many challenges. From being ignored, underestimated, or outright denied, to the near global consensus it enjoys today. Challenges remain, but the Paris climate agreement was a landmark. Our direction of travel is now clear and unstoppable.

This week was a strong reminder of how far we have come as we attended the Mission Innovationand the 8th Clean Energy Ministerial #CEM8 in Beijing.

/commission/commissioners/file/clean-energy-ministerial-mission-innovation-summit-beijing_enClean Energy Ministerial Mission Innovation Summit, Beijing

Video of Clean Energy Ministerial Mission Innovation Summit, Beijing

It has been invigorating to witness the enthusiasm of world leaders, working tirelessly to speed up innovation in clean energy, engaging with the private sector, bringing together investors and innovators, our smart cities and regions, to the benefit of people everywhere. The Paris agreement remains a huge opportunity and we are encouraged by theglobal reaction to the US withdrawal; a wave of support for climate action by the international community.

During the Beijing Summit, we heard from mayors from all around the world how they are renewing their commitment to the Paris Agreement. Cities consume two-thirds of the world's energy and create over 70% of global CO2 emissions. This figure will likely grow as urbanisation continues to increase rapidly. Through initiatives like the European Covenant of Mayors and the Global Covenant of Mayors, cities are assuming their role in dealing with carbon emissions and pollution, as they recognise the opportunities it affords them. Furthermore, cities serve as living laboratories to test out solutions to see what works best and in which conditions.

We have also witnessed an encouraging reaction from businesses, with many leading companies and investors in the US and around the world pledging their support for the Paris agreement. They recognise that it simply makes good business sense! Some studies suggest that the global market for clean technologies could amount to more than $USD 60 trillion through 2040.

We too are seeking to capitalise on this momentum. The European Union is a key member of Mission Innovation, an international effort led by 22 countries and the EU to double their public investment in clean energy R&D over five years. It is complemented by investments in clean energy, focusing on early-stage innovations - led by the private sector. The goal is to re-invigorate clean energy innovation and to drive down its costs, making it the most affordable option for consumers.

And as we look for these innovative solutions, we must recognise them when we see them. Innovation is not only about finding new ideas, but finding new ways of doing things we already do. We must identify old beliefs that hold us prisoner, breaking free from those certitudes, and approaching a problem differently to come up with new solutions. That’s why energy efficiency, and not just clean energy, is such a fundamental part of the solution.

/commission/commissioners/file/clean-future-vice-president-maros-sefcovic-solar-impulse-foundation-chairman-bertrand-piccard_enA clean future: Vice President Maroš Šefčovič & Solar Impulse Foundation Chairman Bertrand Piccard

Video of A clean future: Vice President Maroš Šefčovič & Solar Impulse Foundation Chairman Bertrand Piccard

The World Alliance for Efficient Solutions, established by Bertrand Piccard and the Solar Impulse Foundation, shares this vision and actively works towards its success. Together with our partners in the EU, we work on showcasing the most promising solutions. The Alliance is working to act as matchmaker for those that have developed clean, profitable and efficient solutions, and those looking to use, invest or otherwise support them. We will bring 1,000 of these solutions to COP 24 at the end of 2018 in order to help governments and companies reach their environmental targets and adopt more ambitious energy policies.

We are already looking forward to next year, when the EU and the Nordic countries will host Mission Innovation and the Clean Energy Ministerial in the dynamic Öresund region of Sweden and Denmark. Canada will host the year after; three major economies from three continents to show that the international commitment to the clean energy transition is unwavering.

We find ourselves in a good moment with a renewed push for companies and governments at all levels around the world to reaffirm their commitment.

To borrow an analogy from ballooning; to continue moving forward, we will change altitude and find strong currents of air to carry us forward, but all indications suggest favourable winds ahead. We are both invigorated by the momentum we are seeing in clean industries to truly transform our economies, create growth and jobs, and improve the quality of life for people across the world.