Dave Turk, US Department of Energy: States, regions and businesses “will truly accelerate the clean energy revolution”

Author:
Ilario D'Amato
27 May 2016

Dave Turk, Deputy Assistant Secretary, US Department of Energy

LONDON: Next week, government and business leaders will convene in San Francisco for the seventh Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM7), a critical event that Dave Turk from the US Department of Energy says can “accelerate the global clean energy revolution”, in an exclusive interview for Climate TV.

On June 1 and 2, representatives from 23 countries – accounting for about 75% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 90% of global clean energy investment – will build on the success of the historic Paris Agreement by gathering at CEM7, where they will discuss common solutions to spurring the transition to a low carbon economy.

Attending countries will “help each other implement clean energy policies at scale, to try to increase the speed of deployment of clean energy technologies that exist today,” says Dave Turk, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Climate and Technology at the US Department of Energy in the Climate TV interview.

“We feel this is a particularly important opportunity for the CEM7, that had a terrific success over the first seven years, but it can play an even stronger role to accelerate the global clean energy revolution.”

During the climate talks in Paris, governments put on the table bold commitments in the form of their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. CEM7 will explore “how we can change those ‘paper goals’ to reality,” says Dave Turk.

“We’ve got ministers coming from all the big countries of the world, the most forward-leaning countries: best response we’ve ever seen for any of our Clean Energy Ministerial [events] so far. And I think that’s a clear reflection of countries around the world – and energy ministers in particular – putting an emphasis on the clean energy revolution.”

“They see it happening in their countries, they see the economic benefits, the energy access benefits, and they want to accelerate that in a way that works for their countries. They know they can learn from each other, and they know they can learn from private sector leaders, international organizations and civil society as well.”

ENERGY PRODUCTIVITY

Energy productivity plays a crucial role in achieving the bold goals agreed in the Paris. Last month, the Energy Transmissions Commission stated in its latest report that the world needs a 3% annual improvement in average global energy productivity to 2050, and the “share of zero-carbon energy in the global energy system to increase by at least 1% point per annum” over that same period.

Earlier this month, The Climate Group launched the campaign EP100, to help leading companies get more economic output from each unit of energy they use while reducing fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions, by doubling energy productivity.

This approach “represents a terrific opportunity to lower our GHG emissions, but also an opportunity to save money for our companies, for our businesses and for our populations more generally,” underlines Dave Turk. “This year in particular at CEM7, we’re going to have some very exciting energy efficiency and energy productivity efforts that are going to be announced.”

RENEWABLES OPPORTUNITIES

The uptake of renewable energy has also soared in recent years, in particular with increasing demand from corporates – as demonstrated by the bold 100% renewables commitments showcased in the RE100 campaign, which is led by The Climate Group and CDP.

“We’ve seen some incredibly exciting renewables opportunities and trends,” confirms Dave Turk, “not only in the US but in the whole world. Renewables costs have gone down, whether is solar or wind or other parts of the renewables spectrum – including storage and mini-grids – and this is a real opportunity to accelerate those trends even further.”

Last December, search giant Google joined the RE100 campaign, following in the footsteps of ICT leaders Microsoft and Adobe. “Renewables opportunities is an area that is particularly exciting this year,” continues Dave Turk, “with so many countries and companies around the world stepping up and making commitments on renewables –  to source their data centers and other operations throughout the world.”

“We’re trying to encourage that even more, and trying to give credit for some of these companies that step up to the plate. And that’s the largest group of countries around the world, there’s a lot more we can do to have the enabling environment to allow renewables penetration to occur even faster than it is right now.”

SUB-NATIONAL LEADERSHIP

Alongside CEM7, the State of California – a member of The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance – will host a Subnational-Clean Energy Ministerial (Sub-CEM), which is open to minister-level representatives from all sub-national entities.

In particular, California’s Governor Jerry Brown has extended invites to states, regions, provinces and cities that have already signed up to, or are interested in signing or endorsing, the Under2MOU. The agreement, of which The Climate Group acts as Secretariat, commits the parties to either reducing their GHG emissions 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050, or achieving a per capita emissions target of less than 2 metric tons by the same date.

It is through collaborative initiatives such as this, that states, regions and business can continue to accelerate the transition to a net zero world, says Dave Turk: “Many national governments around the world have incredibly ambitious commitments that have been put on the table, but it doesn’t start and end with national governments.

“They need to work with sub-national leaders, but we also fundamentally need to work with the private sector. We need to encourage and incent private sector leadership to step up to the plate on the clean energy revolution side.”

“We need to look at different public-private models to really accelerate the deployment of technologies around the world. We also need to work with civil society and international organizations, and others that have real expertise and a part to play. But only by working together we will truly accelerate the clean energy revolution.”

Next week The Climate Group will be at various sessions during CEM7 to share our government and business leadership work, including Under2Mou and our newly-launched States & Regions Energy Transition Platform, as well as RE100 and EP100, which are driving corporate demand for renewables and energy productivity by showcasing the clear economic benefits.

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