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.