Clean energy for a clean world

Source: N. (Neven) Mimica i, published on Monday, September 23 2019.

As we speak, climate change is one of the most important threats facing current and future generations.

Solving the climate question requires a whole range of solutions - from technologies and change in behaviours, to less waste and a better use of resources.

One big solution involves transitioning the global energy sector from fossil-based to zero-carbon to reduce emissions.

Such a transition is not only crucial for preserving our precious environment, and improving air quality, it is also fundamental for fulfilling our commitments under SDG 7 and ensuring access to affordable, reliable and modern energy for all. Still far too many people, especially in sub-Saharan Africa or Asia, do not have the luxury of switching lights on after dark or have to cook with polluting fuels.

This is why I made promoting sustainable energy a priority of my international cooperation and development work over the past five years.

The European Union has been leading the charge on implementing the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement, and we have not wavered in our determination to transition to a zero-carbon, climate resilient and sustainably competitive economy - both at home and in our partner countries.

Part of the solution is helping our partners generate more renewable energy and diversify energy sources by exploiting renewables. And I have worked hard during my mandate as EU Commissioner to put sustainable energy cooperation with partners at the heart of some of our flagship initiatives.

For example, under the EU External Investment Plan, we are boosting investments in renewable energy in Africa and the EU Neighbourhood countries through innovative financial instruments because private finance is crucial for driving our agenda forward. Our flagship energy programme in the Plan - the Electrification Financing Initiative - focuses mainly on rural, under-served areas. And we are giving all our support - through both the Plan and ElectriFI - to the Africa-owned and led Renewable Energy Initiative, whose goal is to harness Africa's abundant renewable energy resources for development strategies and low-carbon economic development.

Under the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, we are bringing together African and European stakeholders to inspire strategic developments in sustainable energy.

We are also working with cities and local governments through regional Covenants, such as the Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa, to support their efforts to increase access to sustainable energy and implement local actions to fight climate change.

All of these efforts are starting to pay off. In terms of global targets under the current financial perspective, we set out three “big bets” at the beginning of my mandate to:

Give 40 million people access to energy;

Generate 6.5 gigawatts of renewable energy;

And to save 15 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

With 30 million people getting access to energy and with 4.4 GW of renewable energy generated with EU support, we are well on track to delivering on the first two bets and have already succeeded in the third, with 19 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent saved per year.

There is reason to be upbeat given our progress over the past few years. But the momentum must be kept up. I am confident that occasions like the Climate Summit this week at the UN General Assembly and the COP25 in Chile later this year will push us further on the right path to 2030. It is our global community’s responsibility to deliver concrete, local and long-term actions for a sustainable energy transition, which is good for our planet and good for our people.

For a summary of my international cooperation and development work on climate change, please view this fiche.

For a summary of my international cooperation and development work on renewable energy, please view this fiche.