The UN General Assembly has declared January 26 the International Day of Clean Energy, starting next year, in a move aimed at rallying the world to new forms of energy production.
The resolution to establish the day was co-signed by the UAE and Panama, according to a statement on Friday by the Abu Dhabi-headquartered International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).
The chosen date is also the anniversary of the agency's founding in 2009, and the announcement comes as leaders prepare to attend the UN climate summit Cop28 later this year in the UAE.
The move signals that “energy transition has taken centre-stage to fight climate change, enhance human welfare and drive an urgent and systemic shift for increased energy access, reduced inequalities, improved energy security, and prosperous and resilient economies and societies”, said Irena director-general Francesco La Camera.
“With Cop28 in Dubai approaching, this UN decision highlights the need for a unified global approach to energy issues,” Irena said.
The resolution for the International Day of Clean Energy also comes against the backdrop of a series of extreme events this summer that scientists believe are linked to climate change.
The global energy transition is “front and centre” for the Emirates, which will help make a “concentrated push” to boost clean energy capacity around the world, Minister of Energy and infrastructure Suhail Al Mazrouei said.
The UAE, the Arab world's second-largest economy, is investing heavily in clean energy projects and has announced several initiatives as it seeks to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
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As part of the UAE Energy Strategy 2050, the country plans to invest Dh200 billion ($54 billion) by 2030 to ensure energy demand is met while sustaining economic growth.
Some of the major clean energy projects it is developing include the Barakah nuclear plant, a two-gigawatt solar plant in Abu Dhabi's Al Dhafra region and the five-gigawatt Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai.
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi also announced its Climate Change Strategy for 2023-2027 in July. It aims to reduce emissions by 30 million tonnes by 2027, from 135 million tonnes in 2016.
Annual renewable power capacity must add an average of 1,000 gigawatts annually by 2030 to meet the Paris Agreement's goals, according to Irena.
Although global renewable capacity in the power sector grew by a record 300 gigawatts last year, the gap between actual progress and the development required to achieve long-term climate goals has continued to grow, the agency said in its World Energy Transitions Outlook 2023 in June.
Renewables – excluding hydropower – met 84 per cent of net electricity demand growth last year, according to the Statistical Review of World Energy, also published in June.
Solar and wind recorded their “largest ever” increase in new-build capacity, reaching a record 12 per cent share of power generation in 2022, it found.
“Despite further strong growth in wind and solar in the power sector, overall global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions increased again,” said Juliet Davenport, president of the Energy Institute, a UK-based industry body.
“We are still heading in the opposite direction to that required by the Paris Agreement.”
By creating a day focused on clean energy, the UN “underscores the importance of inclusivity”, Irena said on Friday.
It offers a dedicated day for both traditional and non-traditional actors to showcase their contributions to more affordable, reliable, and sustainable modern energy systems that ultimately help accelerate progress towards the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, it added.
“Launching an International Day of Clean Energy is a powerful way to remind the world of its commitment to universal clean energy access and meeting the Paris Agreement climate goal,” Mr La Camera said.