15 November 2016 - Marrakech, Morocco: In a first, governments forming the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) along with cities, business and civil society gathered to pioneer the shift to 100% renewable energy. The Moroccan Presidency of the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC and CVF hosted a high-level meeting discussing the economic benefits and the moral imperative of a just transition to 100% renewable energy to limit global warming to 1.5C degrees (above pre-industrial levels).
Supported by the United Nations Development Program and the UN Sustainable Energy for All these discussions involved representatives from the governments of Morocco, Ethiopia and Costa Rica, the City of Oslo, the Australian Capital Territory Government, Sumba Islands as well as corporations like Mars and IKEA and civil society actors such as former President of Ireland Mary Robinson of the Mary Robinson Foundation.
Opening the event, COP22 President Salaheddine Mezouar said that switching to renewable energy should become part of the sustainable development agenda of all the countries. “Renewable energies do not only mitigate our impact on climate change but open the way to new models of sustainable development with new investments, new industries and new jobs,” Mezouar said. “We should all embrace the opportunities offered by the development of renewable energies."
In the history of the climate process, this is an unprecedented gathering of leaders to showcase massive support for the 100% renewable energy revolution, a display of intent that is particularly due to some uncertainties generated by the recent outcomes of the US elections.
“This is a very strong message we are sending out today,” said Wael Hmaidan Executive Director of Climate Action Network, (CAN), a network of 1,100 non-governmental organizations that helped facilitate the discussions. “It is clear that we are all heading to a renewable energy future, the question is how fast,” Hmaidan said.
Civil society collaborated intensively to align the influential partners that participated this meeting. Participants included: CAN, Hivos, World Future Council, The Stanley Foundation, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), Christian Aid, Care, Renewable Cities, AVAAZ, Beyond Zero Emissions, IndyAct, RE 100, Climate Group, Climate Reality Project, Solutions Project, The Purpose Climate Lab, 350.org, WWF, CARE, and Track 0.
“Citizens, cities and communities around the world are the ones who pioneer the global 100% renewable energy movement – a prerequisite for keeping the world below the 1.5 degrees benchmark. They need our full support, especially in times when national elections are won on the basis of unacceptable and populistic arguments.” said Stefan Schurig, Director Climate Energy of the World Future Council.
Whether it is a rural community, an international business or a global city, getting on track to go 100% renewable delivers serious benefits across the board. Ditching fossil fuels and going fully renewable could save 100,000 lives a year in China, create 470,000 clean jobs in the US and save the EU $33billion a year in dirty energy imports. Fortunately, the penny has dropped.
"When you look around the world it's clear that we're on the cusp of a renewable energy revolution. Governments, companies and communities everywhere are making leaps and bounds towards 100% renewable energy, said Jessy Tolkan, Executive Director, Purpose Climate Lab”
“We're excited to be able to help showcase this incredible progress at the climate negotiations and demonstrate that the there's incredible momentum towards 100% renewable energy and keeping the world below 1.5 degrees of warming." Tolkan added.
ICLEI Secretary General Gino Van Begin encouraged local governments worldwide to explore the feasibility of a 100%RE pathway for their communities, and to report their commitments, actions and progress to the carbonn Climate Registry.
"Making progress and reporting it will be crucial in order to secure resources and advocate for enabling frameworks that support local and subnational action in the low-carbon transition." said Van Begin, Secretary General of ICLEI, a leading global network of over 1,500 cities, towns and regions committed to building a sustainable future.
At the event, ICLEI was represented by Shane Rattenbury, the Minister for Climate and Sustainability in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Lan Marie Nguyen Berg, Vice Mayor for Environment and Transport of Oslo, Norway.
Minister Rattenbury showed how local government action can meet 100 percent renewable energy targets by locking in long term, fixed-price renewable contracts, which ACT has secured for the next 20 years. Vice Mayor Berg highlighted that transport-related incentives can deliver on 100 percent renewable targets: the city is raising tolls on fossil fuel cars and putting money raised into public transport.
Greenpeace arrived to Marrakech after promoting renewable energy across the Arab world using using its iconic boat The Rainbow Warrior.
"We are bringing the voices of Arab people to this conference calling for a world powered by 100% renewable energy. They are just some of the millions around the world who know that this is the only way to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.” said Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan. We are the generation who will end fossil fuels.”.
100% renewable energy systems across sectors can help renew manufacturing and revitalise careers in an increasingly low carbon global economy, while a wholesale shift to clean, decentralised energy from regional to village scale can boost access to electricity, deliver security and a improve many key development indicators.
"Being able to harness power from the wind and the sun is one of the greatest achievements of human ingenuity. It's such a fundamentally profound breakthrough that we sometimes fail to grasp its potential, said Christian Aid International Climate Lead Mohamed Adow. “The fact that it also happens to be our only route out from the climate catastrophe we have made for ourselves only adds to its immense value.”