Tuesday 28 May 2024

Energy transition requires redefining global cooperation: Irena

NEW YORK, April 22, 2024

Renewable energy, if supported by governments, can “truly change the landscape” in terms of achieving equitable access to affordable and clean energy, but only if they can move from “commitment to action”, according to the Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), reported WAM.
Renewable energy is generally defined as any energy source that is continuously replenished. It includes solar and wind power as well as bioenergy (organic matter burned as fuel) and hydroelectric power.
Irena chief Francesco La Camera spoke to UN News ahead of the special meeting on transitioning to sustainable sources of energy, which took place at the UN Headquarters in New York as part of the first-ever Sustainability Week.
Ensuring access to affordable reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all people, wherever they are in the world, is the aim of Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7).
La Camera said, "There are no difficulties in persuading governments to adopt renewable energy, but from the commitments to the action, there is always something lagging.
“What is important in relation to the countries, with our members, is to support them in finding the right way to translate commitment into action. I think this is the challenge we have to face: how can we move to tripling renewable installation capacity by 2030? Now what is at stake is how we can really achieve this goal.”
Asked about how to ensure that countries commit and take action, the Irena Director-General explained that, since all the countries have already made commitments, one of the key steps is “to rewrite the way international cooperation works”, where “all different entities involved must make an effort”.
“For example, at Irena, we have been working with President William Ruto of Kenya to forge a partnership to accelerate the renewable energy deployment in Africa,” La Camera noted. The Accelerated Partnership for Renewables in Africa (APRA) initiative was launched during the first Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi last year, he continued, highlighting the signing of a joint statement by APRA leaders at COP28 to drive the renewable energy transition as a strategic solution to energy access, security and green growth in Africa.
“We now have seven African countries, including Kenya, as well as developed countries such as Denmark, Germany, the US, and we also have the UAE involved. This is an example of how we are trying to rewrite the landscape of international cooperation. We are building the plan and supporting these countries in creating their own plans for fostering renewables. Together we transform to a new international cooperation mechanism to turn their plans into reality.”
About the notable differences in approaches, commitments and reactions between developing and developed countries when it comes to the energy transition, Francesco La Camera said, “The developed world has to change the system. But, developing countries can leap forward and transition directly to a new energy system as there is a lack of real energy systems. The main difference lies in the status of the energy system in these different parts of the world, which is reflected largely in the existing inequality.
“The other aspect is that the developed countries may have the tools, instruments and financial resources to drive the changes. The developing world needs support in many aspects. Countries require financial and technological support to exchange experiences and technology. These are barriers that need to be overcome today to speed up the transition, especially in Africa.”
“In this respect, Africa is probably the most important powerhouse in the world for renewable energy and green hydrogen [a clean and renewable energy carrier]. But, Africa lacks the infrastructure to make this potential beneficial to its people, which would also benefit the world. Infrastructure such as ports, pipelines and civil infrastructure are decisive and crucial,” the Irena chief went on to say"
“One example that impressed me was Mauritius, where our support for solar panel installation in private houses, private buildings and public buildings has been truly transforming the landscape, giving a big push for achieving SDG 7.”
La Camera added, “To speed up the transition, we need to overcome some structural barriers that exist today. Infrastructure is the first barrier to overcome. Without efficient electricity and without providing storage interconnectivity, flexibility and balancing the grids, we cannot progress. Modernising and building infrastructure where it is absent is the top priority.”
Asked about how normal citizens can contribute to the energy transition, the Irena Director-General said, “We are striving to be more efficient in all our choices, but what is more important is the legal environment where everyone feels compelled to take action. We cannot only call for the moral imperatives.”
Society also makes an easier and simpler environment for people to make the right choices in terms of efficiency and energy conservation, he said, in conclusion.


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