UNEP launches coalition to promote renewable energy

Move aimed at developing policies that enable and encourage renewables and increased energy efficiency

By Aruna Kumarankandath
Published: Thursday 18 December 2014

As per UN estimates, renewable energy would be responsible for reduction of one gigatonne of GHG by 2020

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has announced the launch of a new coalition to enhance the uptake of renewable energy around the world. The initiative that was announced at UN climate conference in Lima (CoP 20), aims at reducing the effects of climate change.

Gigaton Coalition is a voluntary framework, open to developed and developing countries, intergovernmental institutions, private sector organisations and civil society. UNEP will be the coordinating body for collection of data, producing an annual report, and developing a measurement, reporting and verification methodology that is in alignment with the provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The coalition was set up in response to scarcity in reporting on reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which would in turn encourage development of energy efficiency policies and deployment of renewable energy technologies. UNEP plans to substantiate and showcase the benefits and thereby encourage nations to develop policies that enable and encourage renewables and increased energy efficiency. "This year, governments engaged in the UNFCCC climate talks have looked closely at energy efficiency and renewable energy as two key areas with the greatest potential to curb greenhouse gas emissions before 2020, when the new, universal climate change agreement slated for Paris 2015 will take effect," says Cristina Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC.

As per UN estimates, renewable energy would be responsible for reduction of one gigatonne of GHG by 2020. This development is significant since it indicates that the renewable energy movement is gathering foothold. UNEP also highlighted that there are financial benefits of energy efficiency. For instance, energy-efficient appliances and equipment would reduce total electricity consumption by about 10 per cent saving US $350 billion in bills and 1.25 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions every year.

"Energy efficiency and renewable energy, while growing in use and prominence, are still in many ways an untapped goldmine that can greatly reduce the threat of severe climate change, save money and help meet the goal under The Sustainable Energy for All Initiative's to give everyone on this planet access to clean and modern forms of energy," said Achim Steiner, United Nations under secretary-general and UNEP executive director in a press release.

UNEP's Emissions Gap Report 2014 states that in order to limit global temperature rise to 2°C, global carbon neutrality should be attained by mid-to-late century. "The one gigatonne coalition encourages us all to scale up our efforts to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency in developing countries as a contribution to achieve the 2 degree target," says Tine Sundtoft, Norway's minister of climate and environment.

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