Emissions stall as renewables move into top gear


As the news broke today that global greenhouse gas emissions reached a plateau in 2014, a flotilla of announcements from both countries and companies at the Paris climate summit confirmed renewable energy’s pivotal role in the future global economy. Saint Lucia became the 29th nation to join an island renewables initiative and made a deal that will see its governor general’s residence powered by the sun. India presented more details of the international solar alliance launched last week, and African nations started building towards their new target of 300 GW of renewables by 2030 by signing a sustainable energy agreement with potential donor nations. Business is also taking strides towards being clean and green: Coca-Cola, Microsoft, BMW and Google are the latest of over 50 companies to commit to going for 100 per cent renewable electricity through the RE100 programme, with Google intending to triple its renewable energy by 2025. A newly launched ‘Global Geothermal Alliance’ is set to achieve a 200 per cent increase in global installed capacity for heating by 2030, as well as a 500 per cent increase in power generation. As groups from business and health, to faith and parents, as well as local and national governments in both richer and poorer nations throw their weight behind a fully clean energy future, it is clear that renewables are good for everyone. All of those groups will be watching in the coming days to ensure ministers in Paris enshrine a path to 100 per cent renewables in the text of a global climate agreement. Including a strong mechanism to increase ambition and crucial financing and adaptation elements in the text, as well as addressing the issue of loss and damage, will help countries meet this goal and support those already reeling from the impacts of climate change.



Key Points

  • Renewable energy is good for the climate, it’s good for communities, it’s good for the economy, it’s good for job creation and it’s good for business. With prices of renewables tumbling and fossil fuels expensive and risky, renewables are a logical choice for both richer nations and those where affordable energy access is a priority. Renewables create local jobs and protect health and habitats from the impacts of mining, digging, and burning fossil fuels.
  • When the curtain falls on the climate summit, public and private actors will continue to push renewable energy, supported by citizens from all walks of life. Poll after poll reveals vast public support for renewables worldwide. With clean energy sources already representing over one-fifth of global electricity production, and new announcements and commitments coming daily, the world is already on a road to 100 per cent renewables. How quickly it will get there in order to reap the many benefits is up to governments meeting this week in Paris.






  • “The impact of renewables has been much more disruptive than anyone foresaw. There is a huge tide flowing. We can decide in which direction we choose to swim, but we can’t control the tide.” – Mark Lewis, Managing Director of research at Barclays
  • “The renewable energy revolution is essential and exciting. It allows vulnerable Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like ours to reduce public expenditure, stimulate and transform our economies, generate new jobs, while at the same time protecting our environment. It is a winner on all fronts!” – Dr James Fletcher, Saint Lucia’s Minister for Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology
  • “Many developing countries are taking charge of their energy transitions by setting ambitious goals for renewable energy. It is crucial that the most vulnerable are empowered to be agents of change because getting on track to go 100 per cent renewable is a great platform to help overcome poverty. Because of this we call for ministers of the richer countries to unlock the necessary financial support that can unleash renewable powered development.” – Joachim Fünfgelt, Policy Advisor for Climate and Energy Policy, Bread for the World
  • “It is encouraging to see renewable energies taking a center stage here in Paris. However, looking at the proposed COP21 text as well as at the INDCs, negotiators and national governments are still overlooking the necessity to transition towards 100% renewable energy to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. The good news in fact comes from subnational governments: 1000 mayors from across the world are ready to lead the 100% RE movement.” – Anna Leidreiter, Senior Programme Manager Climate and Energy, World Future Council
  • “Many companies are switching to renewable power at a remarkable rate, and encouraging their suppliers and customers to do the same. Our analysis of the private sector’s electricity consumption and carbon emissions indicated that a switch to power from renewable sources could cut global CO2 by nearly 15%.” – Emily Farnworth, RE100 Campaign Director at The Climate Group
  • “The BMW Group is continually reducing its energy consumption and is intensifying its efforts to produce more power in-house and to use energy from local renewable sources. The company also actively supports the expansion of renewable energy. This enables us to increase our autonomy and profitability.” – Dr. Markus Schramm, Senior Vice President, Corporate Planning and Product Strategy at BMW Group
  • “Climate change is one of the most significant material risks for our business. Tackling climate change is also the right thing to do for our planet and we believe that the transition towards a low-carbon economy can deliver significant long-term economic benefits. Committing to 100 percent renewable electricity will help us to grow a low-carbon business and deliver our wider commitment to reduce t
  • he carbon footprint of our core business operations by 50 percent by 2020.  Working with like-minded organisations like RE100, we are convinced we can accelerate the pace of change.” – Hubert Patricot, European President at Coca-Cola Enterprises
  • “Sustainability is foundational to IFF’s Vision 2020 business strategy.  We are proud to join with RE100 and are committed to the use of renewable energy to support a low-carbon economy globally.  We support an ambitious and robust climate agreement in Paris and look forward to partnering with RE100 members to positively impact world climate challenges.”  – Andreas Fibig, Chairman & CEO of International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (IFF)
  • “As the largest financial services company in Northern Europe, Nordea wants to play an important role in building the future of the societies where we operate. This means contributing to sustainable economic progress through the products and services we provide, but it also means ensuring that we minimize the environmental impact of our operations. We work hard to reduce the energy consumption in our offices and our Nordic operations have run on 100% renewable power since 2010. We are proud to now join RE100 and commit to powering the rest of our operations on renewable electricity going forward.” – Gunn Wærsted, Group Executive Management & Head of CSR Committee at Nordea Bank AB
  • “This is the last generation that can take meaningful action against climate change. One practical step that business can take is through the purchase of electricity from renewable sources. Pearson has acted and we already purchase 100% of our electricity globally in this way.  We are now pleased to join RE100 as by adding our voice alongside other businesses, we can help shift this important market.” – Coram Williams, Chief Financial Officer of Pearson PLC
  • “Sustainability is a core value of the vision and strategy of Swiss Post. With our services in logistics and transport, energy issues and climate protection play a key role in our sustainability strategy. Swiss Post participates in the RE100 initiative because it has been entirely powered by renewable electricity since 2008 – and since 2013 by ‘naturemade basic’ certified renewable energy sources from Switzerland, meaning wind, hydro, biomass and solar.” – Anne Wolf, Head of Sustainability at Swiss Post
  • “This [stabilisation of emissions] hasn’t come about just by good fortune. Nor it is a surprise, thanks to the fall in China’s coal consumption and the renewables revolution. But we can’t celebrate yet. Two years of apparently stable emissions do not make a trend.  With the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere already nudging 400 ppm, every ton of oil, coal or gas we burn is making the situation worse, and there is no room for complacency. It’s also not enough for emissions to plateau.  They need to start coming down and fast if we’re to keep temperature rises below 1.5 or 2C.  2015 is already on course to be the hottest year on record. So, while we welcome the new emission figures, which deliver a fresh breath of hope to these talks, it will be a very long time before we can relax and say ‘job done’.” – Martin Kaiser, head of international climate politics at Greenpeace
  • “Slower Chinese emissions growth is good news, but we’re not off the hook, because it could well be short-term and there are increasing concerns with emissions growth in India and other developing countries. India’s emissions grew at nearly 9% in 2014, continuing a period of strong growth, and this growth is expected to continue with India’s plan to double domestic coal production by 2020. While we think it’s unlikely that India’s emissions will ever reach China’s current levels, India could certainly take over from China and drive global emissions growth in the next decade” – Robbie Andrew, senior researcher and co-author based at CICERO.
  • “Climate change requires fast and collective action and continued commitment for decades to come. Our knowledge of risk, our financial resilience and long-term investment horizons enable us to offer effective support for climate protection while making the most out of long-term opportunities for our clients. Delaying action will be costly and will damage growth prospects.” – Oliver Bäte, Chief Executive Officer of Allianz SE

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