Cop26: working together to deliver
WITH the urgency of the climate crisis becoming clearer by the day, governments around the world must unite to end public financing for fossil fuels and increase support for renewables. This year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), hosted by the UK in Glasgow, is the opportunity to lock in this commitment as nations come together to negotiate comprehensive, ambitious and balanced global climate action. These longawaited negotiations will mark an historic moment and help to define the course of our planet’s future
The science is clear. To meet the 2015 Paris climate agreement’s 1.5°C target, the global energy transition needs to progress 4-6 times faster than it currently is. Fossil fuels still supply 84% of the world’s energy and account for over 75% of global emissions. The International Energy Agency’s Net Zero by 2050 roadmap shows that global energy systems must be fossil-fuelfree by 2040. Yet since the Paris agreement was concluded, G20 governments have provided more than three times more public finance for fossil fuels ($77 billion) than for renewables every year
The economics of renewable energy is clear. Solar power is now the cheapest form of electricity in history. Over 90% of power-generation capacity added globally last year was in renewables. But to stand a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the world’s energy systems must transform even faster. And that requires governments and public financial institutions to stop supporting fossil fuels and instead emphasize international support for the clean-energy transition. Given this, Mauritius’s ambition as set out in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) is to be applauded. The NDC includes plans to phase out coal by 2030 and secure 60% of energy from green sources. Boosting investment in renewables is vital to creating jobs, driving economic growth, and reducing air pollution. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, deploying renewables at scale could help create 42 million jobs worldwide by 2050. This additional employment will be crucial for delivering a resilient, green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jobs will, of course, also disappear as we abandon fossil fuels. We therefore must take steps to ensure that every community benefits from the transition. This will require carefully designed policies to support a managed shift away from older forms of energy generation. Global solidarity will be critical. The UK is committed to providing its partners with the necessary technologies, expertise, investment support and financial strategies. On 28 September, the British High Commission and representatives from Mauritius Renewable Energy Agency (MARENA) signed an MoU confirming UK funding for scholarships in the renewable energy sector. This support is helping Mauritius create local renewable energy professionals, the workforce for its low carbon sectors. This is critical to the development of Mauritius’s green economy and specifically the renewable energy sector. The UK government is both proud and excited to support these efforts.
The UK is leading by example. We and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have committed to prioritising international support for the clean-energy transition. In 2019, the EIB became the first multilateral bank to announce an end to all financing for fossilfuel energy projects (by 2021). The bank has been increasing its investments in clean energy, including in developing countries to support their transition. In Kenya, EIB investments have helped build the largest wind farm in Africa, providing clean and affordable energy to the region.
Similarly, in March, the UK government put an immediate end to new public support for overseas international fossil-fuel energy projects, fully shifting investment into renewables. This decision has already started to unlock significant opportunities, building on existing support for clean energy
“To meet the 2015 paris climate agreement’s 1.5°c target, the global energy transition needs to progress 4-6 times faster than it currently is
provided by the country’s export credit agency, UK Export Finance. This includes over £140 million of financing for UK exports to Ghana, which will help Ghana pursue major national infrastructure projects, including an initiative for solar-powered clean water that will reach more than 225,000 people.
The UK has shown that energy transition can go handin-hand with economic growth. Between 1990 and 2019, our economy grew by 78% and our emissions decreased by 44% over this time, the fastest decline in the G7. We were the first major economy to put into law that we will reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. We are the largest producer of offshore wind energy in the world. We will increase our international climate finance to help developing nations with £11.6bn over the next five years. We have announced the end of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030. As the world recovers from the pandemic, we have the chance to build back better.
Everyone, including the developed economies, must play their role in this vital transition. At COP26, governments and financial institutions must commit to supporting cheaper, cleaner, no-regrets energy, and to ending all international support for fossil-fuel-based power. We are already starting to see significant progress in this direction, which the UK government has been driving as G7 President in 2021.
In May, G7 member states committed to cease all of their international financing for coal projects by the end of 2021, and to “phase out new directgovernment support for carbonintensive international fossil fuel energy.” South Korea, Japan, and now China – the world’s largest providers of international coal financing – have also agreed to stop funding coal projects overseas.
Equally importantly, more than 85 countries (plus the European Union) have submitted updated national climate pledges, as outlined in the Paris agreement. These show a clear trend towards higher renewable energy use and lower reliance on fossil fuels by 2030. But many of these countries will need substantial technical and financial support to hit their targets. We must now build on this momentum to ensure that COP26 is a success. More commitments are needed to align international public support fully with the Paris goals. We can achieve the necessary solidarity by bringing governments and public-finance institutions together behind a joint statement proclaiming support for clean energy and a phase-out of fossil fuels.
As hosts of COP 26, we recognise the particular vulnerability of small island developing states (SIDs) such as Mauritius. We are a committed partner and have high aspirations for this partnership given Mauritius’s ambitious NDC. This includes supporting activity to ensure the voice of young people is heard through the Environmental Youth Leadership Programme, building capacity to support Mauritius’s efforts to access climate finance by working with the UN and Australia to develop technical expertise in climate negotiation for Ministry officials and, supporting efforts in Rodrigues, e.g. the Rodrigues Environment Education Project (REEP).
We also understand SIDs such as Mauritius have to balance climate action with economic recovery in the face of COVID-19. The UK is a world leader in technological innovation helping to green economies and infrastructure across the globe and stands ready to share that innovation with Mauritius as it builds back better following the pandemic.
The Paris Agreement was seen as the moment the world reached a consensus on what we needed to do. Glasgow is the moment when the world must get on and do it. As the Mauritian Delegation, led by Prime Minister Jugnauth, prepares to attend COP26, we know Mauritius will join us in pushing for real, tangible action that ensures we deliver this moment for the generations to come.