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Celebrate & Accelerate: Happy Anniversary to the Paris Agreement

On December 12, the world will take a collective pause to recognize the anniversary of the signing the historic international accord on climate change in 2015, the Paris Agreement, and to strengthen the call to “go further, faster” with more ambitious nationally determined contributions (NDCs) at a virtual Climate Ambition Summit hosted by the U.N, the United Kingdom, France, Chile and Italy.

In joining this moment of reflection, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) reaffirms our support of the Paris Agreement and its goals to keep to keep global warming to well below 2 ̊C, as our members provide the technology solution and systems to help put our economy on this low-carbon pathway.  Multilateral action and cooperation matter to our collective ability to effectively mitigate climate change and enhance our resilience to its impacts. As such, the BCSE wholeheartedly welcomes the return of the United States to the agreement under the Biden-Harris administration.

Lisa Jacobson, BCSE President, adds that “the Paris Agreement is a driver of global and domestic action on climate change, and particularly in the energy sector. It provides an important public sector signal to private sector markets to get on board with the transition to clean energy that is well underway.”

Achieving Multiple Benefits

Coinciding with this moment is the international mobilization of trillions of dollars towards economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This creates a new and necessary opportunity to better align our economic development pathways with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“As the U.S. Congress, the incoming Biden administration and world leaders design policy measures to stimulate their national economies, the BCSE calls for climate change, sustainability and equity to be kept front and center in order to make sure that these strategies facilitate a recovery that is effective and the benefits long-lasting,” commented Jacobson.

This triumvirate of economic, social and climate benefits can be achieved through designing innovative and holistic policy solutions, allocation of significant levels of funding into research, development and deployment of clean energy, and the purposeful restoration and creation of new jobs in clean energy sectors.

Going Further, Faster

Deployment of clean energy at the pace and scale that is needed requires cooperation not only between countries but between governments and the private sector. It also requires a “big tent” approach that includes a broad portfolio of clean energy technologies be embedded in policies and research and development (R&D) investments.

In a conversation about the need for diverse coalitions to address climate change, Clay Nesler, interim President of the Alliance to Save Energy and Vice President for Global Energy and Sustainability at Johnson Controls emphasized that “the power of business and civil society coalitions, working together to educate the public and governments cannot be underestimated as an effective driver of political will for climate action.”

An example of this type of partnership in action is the “Three Percent Club” for energy efficiency which was launched last year and now includes 16 member countries, 12 founding partners, 6 program partners, 29 institutional partners and 26 industry partners.

With public financial flows pouring into economic recovery efforts, nearly $11 trillion already by G-20 countries, and only a small percentage of that towards a “green recovery,” a critical opportunity is now before national governments to create an equitable, low-carbon and long-lasting recovery.

Harry Verhaar, Head of Global Public & Government Affairs at Signify, noted that the European Union (EU) is leading the way,“with the launch of the European Green Deal, the EU is committing a large part of its regular budget and an additional economic recovery budget to align with its goal to be climate neutral by 2050. This is a great example of how public finance is allocated and can be leveraged to incentivize greater climate action. The EU’s Renovation Wave, will create local jobs, improve the health and quality of our buildings and the air we breathe."