Presidents Column: January 2019
ISES Launches New Year with Participation in annual IRENA events
On 5 December 2018 the Global Carbon Project published its annual update of the global carbon budget and trends. The report shows that global carbon emissions reached an all-time high in 2018, growing by 2.7% over 2017 (in turn, 2017 budgets increased by 1.6% over 2016). These upward trends follow a three-year period of relatively flat growth in carbon emissions and represent a discouraging development in the quest to limit global warming to no more than 1.50 to 20C above preindustrial levels.
This news formed a part of the backdrop to the 9th Session of the Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), held in Abu Dhabi on 10-13 January 2019. Three ISES Board members were in attendance to participate in various activities of the Assembly, as well as in events surrounding the World Future Energy Summit on 14-16 January. ISES Vice President Eicke Weber and Immediate Past President Monica Oliphant and I all participated in the IRENA Coalition for Action Annual Strategy Meeting on the pre-Assembly day, 10 January, at IRENA Headquarters. For this next year the Coalition will continue to support four subcommittees: the Business and Investment Committee, plus the Community Power subcommittee falling under this Committee, the Towards 100% Renewable Energy Committee, and the Communications Committee. Monica and I both contributed to the “Towards 100% Renewable Energy: Status, Trends, and Lessons Learned” white paper, which was introduced by the Committee Chair, Rainer Hinrichs-Rahlwes at the pre-Assembly meeting later that afternoon. In the coming months I will serve as the co-Chair of the Committee with Rainer, and will develop a second white paper focusing on case studies of 100% Renewable Energy programs.
During the 3-day General Assembly itself IRENA introduced a number of key publications to the member countries and to the NGO’s and observers in attendance at the St. Regis Hotel, where the event took place. For example, there was a launch of a report on the Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation, and a special evening event on Gender in the Energy Transformation, including release of a new report on “A Gender Perspective”.
But the major event that capped off the Assembly was the selection of IRENA’s new Director-General, Francesco La Camera, who currently serves as the Director General for Sustainable Development, Energy and Climate at the Italian Ministry of Environment, Land & Sea. He also led the EU and Italian negotiation teams at the climate COP 20 in Lima and was the head of the Italian delegation to the three previous COPs. Mr. La Camera will officially take over the duties from the current Director General, Adnan Amin, on 4 April. Eicke, Monica and I were all able to greet Mr. La Camera briefly after his acceptance speech and were also able to wish Mr. Amin all the best in his new endeavors once he formally steps down and takes on the honorary title of Director-General Emeritus.
ISES President Dave Renné congratulates Francesco La Camera, IRENA Director-General
Following the General Assembly was the World Future Energy Summit (WFES), a major exhibition representing the entire energy sector, although with significant emphasis on renewable energy technologies. As in previous years our main interest in attending the WFES is to participate as invited speakers of panelists at key side events held at the Innovation Lounge adjacent to the giant exhibit halls at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center. The International Solar Alliance, with whom ISES has formed a formal partnership, is one of the organizations holding these side events, and on 14 January I was invited by their Director General, Mr. Upendra Tripathy, to moderate a Ministerial “Straight Talk” panel discussion consisting of ISA Partners, invited energy ministers, and bankers and solar chief executives.
On 15 January Eicke and I both participated in the 3rd Annual Solar Future Today World Annual Forum on “Changing Paradigm – Towards the Sustainable+ World 100” which brought together key leaders from the manufacturing, project development, project finance, and technology innovation communities for a day of lively discussion and debate about realizing the vision of the global transformation to 100% Renewables. The event was organized under the auspices of the Solar Business Club and its founder Tomasz Slusarz. Tomasz also founded the media arm of Solar Future Today known as Solar Business TV. The Solar Business Club also held an evening black tie gala where Eicke received the Annual Life-Time Achievement Award.
The annual journey to Abu Dhabi is an excellent way for ISES to start a new year in meeting up with many friends and colleagues and offering its own message in support of a world with 100% renewable energy for everyone used wisely and efficiently. Besides connecting with many of our networks, the events in Abu Dhabi provide a clear indication of the progress being made in the energy transformation, especially at the regional and local levels, and the commercial sectors.