MARRAKECH: Global leaders from government, business and the UN gathered for a high-level meeting on Tuesday at COP22 to call for a transition to 100% renewable energy worldwide to achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement.
The meeting was hosted by the Moroccan Presidency of COP22 and the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), a coalition of 47 governments, to assess how a global transition to 100% renewable energy would help to limit global warming to 1.5°C degrees above pre-industrial levels.
Supported by the UN Development Programme and Sustainable Energy for All, the meeting included participants from the governments of Morocco, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, the City of Oslo, the Australian Capital Territory, Sumba Islands, as well as RE100 members Mars and IKEA, and civil society actors such as former President of Ireland Mary Robinson of the Mary Robinson Foundation.
COP22 Ambassador Aziz Mekouar, opened the event saying: “Renewable energies do not only mitigate our impact on climate change but open the way to new models of sustainable development with new investments, new industries and new jobs. We should all embrace the opportunities offered by the development of renewable energies."
The meeting was unprecedented in the international climate process, gathering leaders to showcase significant support for the 100% renewable energy transition. Wael Hmaidan, Executive Director, Climate Action Network (CAN), a network of 1,100 non-governmental organizations that helped facilitate the discussions, said: “This is a very strong message we are sending out today. It is clear that we are all heading to a renewable energy future, the question is how fast.”
Barry Parkin, Chief Sustainability & Health and Wellbeing Officer, Mars, Incorporated called for stakeholders to scale-up cooperation and collaboration to combat climate change, and to address the key challenges of water scarcity and deforestation. Parkin also emphasized the key role of the private sector in advancing global climate action at this crucial moment in political and economic history.
Mars was the first US business to join the RE100 campaign of global corporates committed to 100% renewable power, which is run by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, and earlier this year, the company announced a new partnership between its UK arm and energy company Eneco UK that will see all Mars operations in the UK being powered by the new Moy Wind Farm in Scotland.
Steve Howard, CSO, IKEA, a founding member of RE100, was a key participant at the meeting and highlighted the company’s journey towards 100% renewables by 2020 as an example to other corporates.
IKEA, which has installed almost 700,000 solar panels on its stores and distribution centers worldwide, announced plans for a solar installation at its Midwest distribution center under construction in Joliet, Illinois in the US. Installation will begin in Spring 2017, with completion expected in Autumn 2017 and it will be the largest rooftop array in the state. The project will make IKEA owner of three of the state’s largest solar rooftop installations, with its arrays in the Chicago-area at IKEA stores in Bolingbrook and Schaumburg.
Damian Ryan, Acting CEO at The Climate Group, one of the meetings organizing partners, said: “I am optimistic about the momentum we are seeing. 30 leading companies have joined RE100 so far this year, including Apple and Bank of America. Together, the current membership of 83 businesses is creating demand for more than 100 terawatt hours of renewable electricity – more than enough to power Morocco three times over.
If we’re going to see hundreds of thousands of companies setting and delivering on ambitious energy goals in the years to come, every leading corporate must become a compelling advocate. Research shows that businesses could save as much as 10 billion metric tons of CO2 a year by 2030. That’s the same as China’s annual emissions, and would get us more than halfway to sub-two-degree warming.”