CEM8 – Insider Perspective

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12 June, 2017


WBCSD insights




Last week, the eighth Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM8) took place in Beijing, China.

During the event, energy ministers and other high-level representatives from the Ministerial’s 24 member countries gathered to discuss their political plans to increase deployment of clean energy technologies.

A key theme of each CEM is to support collaboration between government, the private sector and international organizations. During CEM8 and under the umbrella of the CEM Corporate Sourcing of Renewables Campaign, WBCSD was pleased to host the “Corporate Sourcing of Renewables Day,” along with the Center for Resource Solutions, the International Renewable Energy Agency, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, RE100, the Rocky Mountain Institute, the World Resources Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund.

Throughout the event, numerous discussions highlighted that companies across the globe are voicing their ambitions to buy renewable power. However, only a small number of countries have regulations in place to enable corporate buyers of electricity to buy and certify their renewable purchases. Over the course of “Corporate Sourcing of Renewables Day,” a few government leaders shared their thoughts on addressing the issue.

Government statements from Denmark, Germany, Sweden, China, the United States and Mexico highlighted the appeal of corporate renewable sourcing – stating that private companies’ actions do – in most cases – increase the installed capacity of renewables in their countries.

The challenge for governments, many said, is to provide stable but flexible regulations that offer companies and their supply chain partners the choice to fulfil their set climate targets.

WBCSD facilitated a panel discussion with AkzoNobel, Philips Lighting, CLP and BNEF, specifically looking at Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). A PPA is a contract between the buyer and the power producer to purchase electricity at a pre-agreed price for a pre-agreed period of time.

After the fast rise of PPAs in the US and Mexico, they are now becoming more favorable in markets across Europe and Asia as well, as they are a suitable tool that eases the bankability of new renewable projects for developers and increases cost visibility for corporate buyers.

As many speakers throughout the day reminded us: Renewable energy is the cheapest form of electricity generation in some markets. In previous years, companies purchased renewables because of sustainability initiatives and brand recognition. Now, they’re doing it because it positively affects the bottom line.

To promote the uptake of corporate sourcing in China, WBCSD and several partner organizations launched the Green Electricity Consumption Coordination Organization (GECCO). Its aim will be to promote clean energy procurement to all stakeholders: companies, governments and citizens.  

WBCSD’s below50 group also held a joint event with Mission Innovation and the Biofuture Platform to highlight the essential role for low-carbon fuels, including biofuels, in decarbonizing the transportation sector.

Throughout the event, international technical agencies like the International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Agency made it clear that biofuels with emissions that are 50% less than fossil fuels are necessary for reaching the Paris Agreement and keeping the world below the 2° C threshold. These same agencies also made it clear that through sustainable intensification of agriculture and the judicious use of diverse organic waste streams, these fuels can be produced sustainably.

WBCSD also hosted sessions on sustainable cities– highlighting that the transition to clean energy goes beyond the electricity grid and requires additional systemic solutions.

For example, WBCSD and WRI co-hosted a Ministerial Roundtable on “Leveraging City-Scale Building Efficiency Action.” The session highlighted that it’s necessary for national governments to leverage energy efficiency in buildings in order to make significant progress on national energy and climate goals. This is because globally, buildings represent more than one third of final energy use and 20% of total GHG emissions.

Session participants from CEM8 countries, cities and city networks as well as the private sector also discussed barriers and potential solutions for increasing building efficiency through better collaboration.

In doing so, they called for more national leadership to provide clear long-term targets and an implementation framework for supporting building efficiency. They also called for an increase in financing for capacity building for technical skills, program development and management capacity at the local level.

Participants also stressed the importance of using market forces to scale up proven business models and achieve set targets through increased collaboration between the national and sub-national government levels and with the private sector, and more regular evidence-based dialogue between these groups.

We look forward to next year’s Clean Energy Ministerial, and to continuing our work on corporate sourcing of renewables, low-carbon fuels and sustainable cities as we accelerate the transition to a net zero emissions world.