During the recently-concluded COP21 climate talks in Paris, the Climate Parliament was proud to host a side-event on green growth and large-scale renewable energy at the historic Hotel Louvre. In contrast to the febrile atmosphere of the negotiations, our Roundtable established a space where legislators, policy experts and investment analysts could calmly explore pressing issues facing the global economy on energy, climate change and decarbonisation. Although the negotiators were ultimately able to reach an ambitious agreement, it is clear that the decarbonisation targets in the final Paris deal must be met – and exceeded – if the world is to have any realistic chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. Our event explored the new strategies for green growth that are urgently required to build a safe and prosperous world without destabilising the climate.
The two-day roundtable was attended by thirty one legislators from across Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas, including the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, and the former Deputy Prime Minister of the UK, Lord Prescott. Experts and analysts from the IEA, IRENA, WWF, Energy Watch Group, 3E, and the Georgetown Climate Center joined the MPs for urgent discussions on a broad range of current energy and climate challenges. Sessions addressed a wide range of topics, including:
How best to power the economy with solar, wind, hydro and other renewable energy sources. The world’s growing energy needs can be met safely if we switch the power supply to sun, wind and water. This can deliver cheaper energy, create millions of jobs, and avoid the huge costs associated with fossil fuels from the health impacts of pollution, from environmental impacts and from direct subsidies.
The construction of a Green Grid, utilising smart technology to integrate millions of different energy sources, and connect everyone to sources of unlimited cheap energy such as sunny deserts and windy coastlines. The Green Grid needs to be smart enough to integrate millions of energy sources, needs to cross borders to give everyone access to the areas of abundant cheap energy, and needs to include “energy islands” for small islands or off-grid villages which can enable even the poorest citizens to harness their local energy resources.
The latest developments in demand-side management technologies for buildings. Because buildings account for 40% of the world’s energy consumption, and 21% of global greenhouse gas emissions, it’s vital to improve the efficiency of buildings wherever possible. Buildings large and small must become energy generators using rooftop solar PV, must become part of smart grids, able to adjust demand from smart appliances to match fluctuations in supply, and must stop wasting vast amounts of energy through poor installation.
Switching road transport from petrol engines to electric vehicles. Millions of new cars come onto the roads every year, and those cars are parked much of the time. If each one contained a powerful battery, car owners could not only enjoy much cheaper driving, but could also make money by selling stored energy back into the grid at times or high demand or low supply.
As well as our two-day forum for legislators, we were proud to co-host an official side event at the COP site itself on December 4th. The two-hour workshop, organised by the Climate Parliament, FICCI and the Renewables Grid Initiative, was titled "Climate Ambition in Industry: Towards Collective Action and Transformative Solutions", and explored industry action on sustainability and low carbon growth; India as a market for innovation, trade, investment in climate-friendly technology; the global experience of low carbon strategies based on renewable energy systems; and the importance of grid infrastructure as enablers of energy transition.