Collaboration is crucial in energy transition

Successful climate action depends on scaling up investments that require strong partnerships

A view of solar cells on the rooftop of a hotel in the resort town of Sharm El Sheikh, as the city prepares to host Cop27. Reuters
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The ominously nicknamed "doomsday glacier" in Antarctica is barely clinging to the rock. If it continues to melt at its current rate and collapses into the ocean – which climate scientists are suggesting is imminent – global sea levels could rise by 65 centimetres (more than two feet). Such an event could set off a devastating ripple effect that puts coastal communities at immediate risk.

But we can still act to help strengthen the Thwaites Glacier’s grip on the Antarctic mainland. To do this, we must strengthen our own grip on climate commitments and turn them into meaningful action.

Turning the tide on climate change must start by seriously raising the levels of ambition and investment. Right now, as we approach Cop27, climate commitments that are not supported by practical actions and investment plans equate to mere raindrops in a rapidly warming ocean. Without stronger collective resolve to invest in climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience measures, we are sleepwalking knee-deep into a rapidly warming ocean without a life jacket.

To improve our chances of not just surviving but thriving in the future, we must take a practical, systematic and economy-wide approach. This requires investments that scale-up the deployment of renewables beyond power, integrating them into end-uses and high-emitting industrial sectors by taking advantage of ground-breaking, innovative solutions like green hydrogen. Investments must also ensure energy security to maintain worldwide, uninterrupted energy access, especially at this critical time.

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The UAE has invested more than $50 billion in renewable energy projects across 70 countries

We are moving in the right direction. In 2021, more than $365 billion was invested in renewable energy solutions. Moreover, renewables accounted for more than 80 per cent of all new power generating capacity last year. But we are not moving fast enough. Renewables still only account for 4 per cent of today’s total energy mix.

To achieve sustainable development, economic growth and avoid a near-certain climate disaster, the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) forecasts that the world must invest $5.7 trillion annually until 2030.

A robotic vehicle with imaging sensors, on sea ice in front of Thwaites Glacier, after a mission to map the seafloor. PA

That includes annual investments of at least $1 trillion in renewable power, and $130 billion in hydrogen through to 2030, according to a landmark report co-published by Irena, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and 45 governments including the G7, China and India – which comprise 70 per cent of the global economy.

This level of investment is based on the need to create up to 8 terawatts (TW) of additional renewable capacity by 2030 – up from the 3TW online in 2021 – which the report says will help reduce global emissions in five key sectors – power, hydrogen, road transport, steel and agriculture.

The UAE remains committed to playing its part in helping to drive the energy transition – at home and abroad. To date, after more than two decades of constant investment in renewable energy infrastructure, the UAE is now home to three of the world’s lowest-cost solar plants. Overseas, the UAE has invested more than $50 billion in renewable energy projects across 70 countries and plans to invest an additional $50 billion over the next decade.

The UAE is also a leading advocate of international partnerships which is critical to addressing this shared, global challenge. Multilateralism is key to this ecosystem. And we have reason to believe that such an ecosystem is beginning to come to life.

In October last year, at the G20 Summit in Rome, and ahead of Cop26 in Glasgow, leaders from the Group of Twenty (G20) made a commitment to reach net zero emission by mid-century. This was the first time such a deal was struck among all G20 member states. Now is not the time to waver on these commitments.

Leaders of the G20 in front of the Trevi Fountain during an event for the G20 summit in Rome, on October 31, 2021. AP

In another successful display that paves the way forward on these commitments, Irena co-hosted its first Investment Forum on Energy Transitions in partnership with the G20 Indonesia Presidency. Together, they signed the Bali Declaration, and announced the formation of the Alliance for Industry Decarbonisation.

First, the Bali Declaration provides a framework to accelerate energy transitions through three main priorities: securing energy accessibility, scaling-up clean technologies and advancing clean energy financing. The three areas require urgent attention from all global players. Second, the global Alliance for Industry Decarbonisation aims to raise net-zero ambitions and accelerate the decarbonisation of industrial value chains by supporting businesses and promoting green industrialisation while cutting down on industry emissions.

The forging of this new alliance could not be more timely. Industry is responsible for 28 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Success requires mutually beneficial partnerships built on a shared conviction that urgent action is required for industrial stakeholders to address the challenges and opportunities of a clean energy transition. Irena’s multi-stakeholder platform aims to achieving exactly this.If we are to mobilise the funds needed to power the energy transition, collaboration is crucial. And if we are to truly mitigate the deepest impacts of climate change, we must all now step up.

Published: September 22, 2022, 4:00 AM
OPINION