Third report of 1 Gigaton Coalition released

Renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in developing countries can go a long way to making up shortfalls in Paris climate pledges, while delivering huge human health and economic benefits, according to a new report by the 1 Gigaton Coalition.

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Developing Countries: Contributions to Reducing Global Emissions finds that internationally supported projects, implemented in developing countries between 2005 and 2016, could reduce 0.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) from annual emissions by 2020. One gigatonne is roughly equivalent to a year of transport emissions in the European Union (including aviation).

When scaled up using international climate financing commitments, such projects could deliver greater reductions of 1.4 GtCO2e by 2020 – provided the international community meets its promise to mobilize a quarter of the US$100 billion per year to help developing countries adapt to climate change and reduce their emissions.

According to UN Environment’s Emissions Gap report, released the same day, the world must find another 11 to 13.5 GtCO2e in cuts by 2030 to stay on the least-cost path to hitting the Paris target of limiting global temperature rise to 2oC this century.

“As renewable energy and energy efficiency bring other benefits – including better human health and jobs – I urge the international community to deliver on the funding they promised to support developing nations in their climate action”, said Ms Ine Eriksen Søreide, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. “Partner-supported renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and policies are vital for global decarbonization, as they provide key resources and create enabling environments in critical regions.”

Supported by the Government of Norway and coordinated by UN Environment, the 1 Gigaton Coalition’s report finds that renewable energy and energy efficiency projects create multiple benefits far beyond climate change mitigation. These benefits include improved environmental and human health, economic stimulus and employment creation, enhanced gender equality, and societal improvements that support the Sustainable Development Goals – making renewables and energy efficiency a sound all-round investment.

The report highlights many cases where such benefits have accrued:

  • New Delhi’s municipal government partnered with IL&FS Environment to build a waste-to-energy plant that will save a projected 8.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over its 25-year lifespan, while reducing landfill pollution. The project hired 70 waste-pickers at the new plant, and created a community center that provides support and job training to approximately 200 women.
  • The Chinese city of Nanjing added 4,300 electric vehicles to the streets between 2014 and 2015, reducing emissions by 246,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent and saving over US$71 million in energy bills in one year alone.
  • In Lagos, a partnership between a solar start-up and telecommunications provider has brought solar power to 50,000 homes, clinics, schools, and businesses, benefiting over 250,000 people, and creating 450 jobs.
  • Mexico City’s Sustainable Buildings Certification Programme covers 8,220 square meters of floor area across 65 buildings. It has created 68 new jobs and saved 116,789tonnes of CO2, 133 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity and 1,735,356 cubic meters of potable water.

“The 1 Gigaton Coalition report clearly shows that investments in renewables and energy efficiency measures aren’t just about heading off catastrophic climate change,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment. “They can make people’s lives better right now by reducing air pollution and creating jobs that will last.”

To help renewable energy and energy efficiency support global climate goals, the report highlights the need for expanded support for knowledge and technology transfers, increased financing and policies that create enabling environments for decarbonization measures; and rapid technological innovation and project implementation.

Find more in the full report.

Second report of 1 Gigaton Coalition released

Renewable energy and energy efficiency projects implemented in developing countries from 2005 to 2015 will reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by almost half a gigatonne by 2020, according to the second report by the 1 Gigaton Coalition.

These reductions could more than double, reaching one gigatonne, if developed nations deliver on commitments made in Paris last year to provide $100 billion in annual climate financing for developing nations by 2020, finds the report. One gigatonne is roughly equivalent to the emissions generated by transport in the European Union (including aviation) over a year.

“Internationally supported projects on renewable energy and energy efficiency are making significant contributions to reducing global greenhouse emissions,” said Mr. Børge Brende, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“Thanks to the work of the 1 Gigaton Coalition we can measure and report the impact of these projects to see how far we still have to go to reach the climate goal. This is how the Coalition aims to inspire countries around the world to raise their action and ambition on climate change through the energy sector.”

Supported by UN Environment and the Norwegian Government, the 1 Gigaton Coalition’s report found that in the ten years between 2005 and 2014 international support for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in developing countries amounted to $76 billion – an average of $7.6 billion per year.

Although international financial support accounted for less than 10 per cent of total investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, it provided the essential seed capital for ambitious projects, lifting barriers to private investment.

“Developing countries are being hit the hardest by the worst effects of climate change, and we have to support them,” said UN Environment Chief Erik Solheim.

“Last year, for the first time in history, developing countries invested more in renewable energy than the developed ones. But maintaining this momentum in the future will depend on developed nations keeping their end of the bargain and providing adequate climate financing.”

International financial support has enabled Morocco to build Africa’s largest wind farm and what will be the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant, expected to bring electricity to 1.1 million people once it reaches full capacity in 2018. By 2020 the North African country expects to generate over 40 per cent of its energy from renewable sources.

In China, a multinational initiative has helped to drastically reduce the energy intensity of the country’s key industries, resulting in total emissions reductions of over 10 megatonnes. The initial international financing of over $265 million attracted nearly $1 billion from Chinese banks and industry partners.

A project to improve energy efficiency of buildings in Georgia is expected to bring down emissions of the country’s ten largest cities by nearly 20 per cent. Currently, Georgia uses 50 per cent more energy per unit of floor space than European Union countries with similar climate.

Also released today, UN Environment’s Emissions Gap report found that the world must urgently and dramatically increase its ambition to cut roughly a further quarter off predicted 2030 global greenhouse emissions and have any chance of minimizing dangerous climate change.

With 67 developing and emerging economies now boasting national energy efficiency targets and 117 having adopted renewable energy targets, the global South will play a major role in bridging the emissions gap.

Find more in the full report

First report of 1 Gigaton Coalition released

The inaugural report of the 1 Gigaton Coalition, entitled Narrowing the Emissions Gap: Contributions from renewable energy and energy efficiency activities, is now available, and details the emissions saved after analysing nearly 6,000 renewable energy and energy efficiency activities in developing countries. They show the potential for further emissions reductions if programmes and initiatives are supported further to replicate successful projects more widely.

The report is based on the current level of activities in renewable energy and energy efficiency in the energy sector. However, after the COP21 negotiations, the level of green energy financing is likely to increase, and the 1.7 gigaton figure would be expected to grow in the future. This would assist in closing the emissions gap, which the UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2014 estimated at 8–10 Gt CO2 equivalent by 2020. Please download the report in the ‘Resources’ section or by clicking here.

Ministerial Launch of first report

The 1 Gigaton Coalition is pleased to announce that its inaugural report will be launched at the Paris COP21 on 7 December 2015. This report is an important first step in addressing previously uncounted data and methodology gaps in the emissions gap picture, namely the role of renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives in the energy sector.

The Ministerial Launch will be held during the historic COP21 on Monday 7 December at 12.15-13.45 in the Nordic Pavilion. Please note that space is limited to 40 seats. If you would like to attend, please email Ms. Minori Lee at with the subject title ‘Ministerial launch’ to reserve your space. Additionally, please note that this event space is only accessible to UNFCCC-accredited participants.

More information, including information on report findings, agenda and speakers will be sent out shortly.

First Coalition Meeting

The first Coalition meeting was held to present progress and seek views from partners on the way forward. It was decided to keep the structure of the coalition lean and efficient, and focus on producing a useful and credible first report of the Coalition ahead of COP21.

  • Dr. Zitouni Ould-Dada presented an overview based on the Framework document and provided an update on the activities of the Coalition: Timeframe for regional meetings and events, including a regional meeting in Santiago, Chile on 30 June; and
  •  Producing the first Report from the Coalition and launching it at COP 21 in Paris.

Dr. Ould-Dada also highlighted the benefits of joining to the Coalition Partners.

  • The following questions, remarks and suggestions were made by various partners present: Many activities are already happening in developing countries which are helping to reduce emissions, but these are going unnoticed. This is where the 1GtC could add value.
  • There are challenges with data and methodology but the 1GtC should aim to get the best estimates possible, and make necessary assumptions. Collection and documentation of the data by the 1Gt Coalition would be very helpful. Partners noted that this is good timing for the 1GtC to add value, as countries are submitting their INDCs which might contain information on the energy sector.
  • Partners welcomed the ability of the 1Gigaton Coalition to help build the capacity for countries to collect data that complies with the specific requirements of what the Coalition is looking for in order to calculate emissions savings from activities on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Multiple partners also commented that there is a strong need to strengthen MRV capacity in developing countries, and this was an area where the 1Gigaton Coalition could assist. Partners suggested coordinating with others, including the UNFCCC Secretariat to explore synergies to support capacity building for MRV.
  •  Some partners asked for clarification of what is meant by ‘donor supported activities’ and how the 1GTC intends to work with other organisations. It was explained that this refers to bilateral and multilateral initiatives and activities, in addition to national programmes. The 1GTC would like to enter into a dialogue with relevant partners to jointly develop methods that can be applied on the ground.

1 Gigaton Coalition launched at Lima’s COP20

The Ministerial Launch of the 1 Gigaton Coalition was held on 10 December 2014 at COP20 in Lima, with about 70 participants including 30 from governments and 40 representatives from private sector, NGOs and academia.

The 1 Gigaton Coalition was officially launched on 10 December 2014 at COP20 in Lima, with speakers including E.H. Tine Sundtoft, Minister of Climate and Environment, Norway; Mr Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UNEP; Dr Alice Kaudia, Environment Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, Kenya; Mr Adnan Amin, Director General, IRENA; Sir David King, Special Representative for Climate Change, United Kingdom; and Mr Halldor Thorgeirsson, Director of Strategy, UNFCCC Secretariat.

The ‘1 Gigaton Coalition’ is so named because it is believed that emission reductions from renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts could deliver annual savings of 1 gigaton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year by 2020.

These emission reductions, however, are currently underreported in most countries. In order to achieve target reductions there is a need for an expanded evidence base on the contribution of renewable energy and energy efficiency to emission reduction targets. To this end, the coalition will identify success stories and highlight their achievements in order to encourage broader uptake of such approaches. Success stories are seen as a way to bolster the case for ambitious initiatives, such as a global switch to energy efficient appliances that could reduce electricity consumption by 10% and avoid 1.25 billion tonnes of CO2e per year.

Activities to be carried out through the voluntary coalition include the development of a measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) framework for energy efficiency and renewable energy; the collection of data on achieved emission reductions; and the production of an annual report on progress towards the 1 gigaton target.

Participation in the coalition is open to government agencies and intergovernmental organizations as well as the private sector and civil society.