How 3 local innovation labs are helping drive a global energy transition

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15 December 2017

This week The Climate Group published three briefings revealing the findings from its Innovation Labs as part of the Energy Transition Platform, an initiative which supports state and regional governments to develop and implement innovative clean energy policies. Leah Good, States and Regions Manager, The Climate Group, explains why the findings are important to the global energy transition.

While progress was made at the global COP23 climate talks in Bonn last month, it was seen by many as a ‘process’ COP, with national government negotiators getting into the nitty-gritty of implementing the commitments they made in Paris two years ago at COP21 – to keep the world within the safe limits of under 2 degrees Celsius of warming.

But real headway on implementing the Paris Agreement is being made on the ground by sub-national governments. And it’s now clearly visible for all to see.

The 2017 Annual Disclosure Update, which was published by The Climate Group and CDP during COP23, shows that 100 state and regional governments are already working to get the job done – with governments reporting an 80% increase in climate actions across diverse sectors including buildings, energy, transport and land use.

Among those that are leading the way are governments from industrialized regions that have built their economies on energy-intensive industries like steel production and coal mining. Aware of the risks of continuing reliance on fossil fuelled growth – and the huge opportunities presented by the shift to a cleaner economy – many governments are now putting the work in to address the challenges they face in cutting their emissions.  

Some, like the Government of North Rhine-Westphalia, are seeking to learn from other regions facing similar challenges. North Rhine-Westphalia is the lead partner government of The Climate Group’s Energy Transition Platform, a global policy forum, supported by Stiftung Mercator, which brings together 11 highly industrialized states and regions to exchange on both the challenges and opportunities they face in transitioning their energy systems. 

The Energy Transition Platform hosts three Innovation Labs, where government partners work together to share their policy challenges and identify tangible solutions around three priority themes: Community Renewables; Energy Efficiency in Buildings; Industry Engagement.

In the Innovation Lab on Industry Engagement, the Government of North Rhine-Westphalia has discussed its success in bringing industry on board to co-develop its region-wide Climate Protection Plan, which sets out pathways for achieving the ambitious GHG emissions reduction target of 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

Through the Community Renewables Innovation Lab, governments have shared strategies for engaging citizens in renewable energy projects. The Government of Minnesota have shared their experience implementing its Community Solar Gardens, which will generate 600 MW of solar power by 2020 and create 1000 jobs.  The Welsh Government have shared their experience leading a nation-wide conversation on “The Energy We Want”, consulting 7,000 people across the country. Following this national dialogue, the Welsh Government has recently set an ambitious target of 70% electricity generation from renewable sources by 2030.

The government partners in the Energy Efficiency in Buildings Innovation Lab recognize the huge challenge that the built environment presents to our efforts to tackle climate change. Buildings account for 30-40% of global energy consumption and 25-35% of total CO2 emissions. In this Innovation Lab, the Government of Alberta have shared their success in addressing this issue by using a variety of methods: from tax rebates on energy efficient products, to targeted home visits to inform Albertans how they can be more energy efficient – for which more than 140,000 households have expressed their interest since the initiative began.

The key findings from each of the Innovation Labs have been distilled by our research partner, the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment in three thematic policy briefings.

Each briefing provides a profile on the governments involved in the lab as well as policy case studies, lessons learnt and recommendations for state and regional governments seeking to make advances in these crucial policy areas. While the findings are specific to these regions, they can be modelled and scaled up by innovative and ambitious governments around the world.

We look forward to continuing our work with such governments in the future, as together we accelerate climate action towards a world of under 2°C of global warming.

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