Young European Leadership at the UNFCCC COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco

COP 22 Daily Blog – Day 5 (Week 1), Friday Nov. 11, 2016

by Romy Abou Farhat [1] and Alexander Pfeiffer [2]

Day 5 at the COP was focused around energy, in particular issues of energy access, energy storage, and renewable energy. Almost every country or region present at the COP held an event around these topics, to demonstrate where they are in terms of technological capacities, innovation, and accessibility. It was very interesting to witness the energy and technology gap between different regions first hand. Energy services are crucial to human well-being and to a country’s or region’s economic development in our modern world. Yet, globally over 1.3 billion people are without access to electricity and around 2.6 billion people live without clean cooking facilities.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organization that supports countries in their transition to a more sustainable energy future, and Sustainable Energy for All, a global platform that empowers companies to achieve access to clean energy, held a global energy action showcase event. For this they gathered a diverse panel of leaders in this field, including businesses, governmental organizations, institutions, and NGOs. These high-level panelists gave thoughts on how to increase energy productivity and leverage the transformative role of renewable energy. In the afternoon, experts discussed ways to close the energy access gap cleanly and affordably. In particular they discussed how to reach the furthest first, what the impact of energy access on women’s lives and livelihoods can be, and the prospect of lifting millions out of poverty with renewable energy options.

A couple of private influential corporations were showcasing their energy efficiency strategies and sustainability commitments. In fact, the private sector accounts for around half of the world’s electricity consumption. Switching this demand to renewables could accelerate the transformation of the global energy market and aids the transition to a low carbon economy. Among the corporations present at the event, Facebook had the most impressive low-carbon model. They have invested millions of dollars in operational efficiency and shared their learning and expertise with other companies for free. They engineered the most efficient data centers on earth, build only sustainable workspaces, add large amounts of renewable energy to the grids, and support their operations by making it more accessible to all.

Another inspiring talk of today was held by Bertrand Piccard, the initiator, chairman, and Pilot of Solar impulse — the plane that travelled around the world with no fuel, using only clean technologies and solar energy. He announced the creation of a new global alliance for clean technology — a second phase in the realization of his vision that clean technologies can accomplish impossible goals and offer tangible solutions to solve many of the challenges facing global society today as well as reach the objectives of the Climate Action Agenda. It aims to gather up to 1,000 companies, start-ups, institutions, and organizations by next year, to produce, implement, support and accelerate the use of clean technologies.

Ventures and visionaries like these are, what makes look optimistic into the future, despite the challenges ahead.

[1] Romy is an Imperial College London M.Sc. student in Sustainable Energy Futures

[2] Alex is the head of Young European Leadership’s delegation to the COP and a doctorate student at the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) at the Oxford Martin School

See also our daily video blog from the COP (Part 5):