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Energy transition at the top of the global agenda

On July 9, the first ever IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit was attended by 40 Ministers from across the world – including Ministers Kwasi Kwarteng and Alok Sharma from the UK- to discuss how to deliver a sustainable and resilient recovery from the ongoing crisis and achieve a definitive peak in global carbon emissions.

The participating Ministers represented over 80% of the global economy and were also joined by CEOs, investors, and other key leaders, with IEA Executive Director Dr Fatih Birol chairing the meeting.

The Summit was held at a critical time for the global and the UK economy, as we determine how to recover from the coronavirus crisis, and followed the Chancellor’s announcements of the new financial measures to tackle the crisis, including plans for a new £3bn energy efficiency programme. The event built on the current momentum for a clean energy transition along with widespread calls for averting a return to business as usual in favour of a green recovery.

The high-powered gathering warmly welcomed the IEA’s Sustainable Recovery Plan, which sets out 30 actionable, ambitious policy recommendations and targeted investments. In collaboration with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the IEA developed the Plan that could grow the global economy by 1.1% per year, protect or create 9 million jobs per year, and avoid a rebound in emissions while paving the way for their structural decline.

Job creation will certainly be key in the recovery and if we are to achieve a so-called just transition that does not leave anyone behind.  The Sustainable Recovery Plan claims that 35% of new jobs could be created through energy efficiency measures and another 25% in power systems, particularly in wind, solar and modernising and strengthening electricity grids. ADBA’s latest report Biomethane: The Pathway to 2030 finds that 30,000 direct jobs could be generated by the UK’s anaerobic digestion (AD) sector alone with the right policies in place. Many of these jobs would be in rural communities significantly contributing to the levelling up of economic opportunity across the UK. While the World Biogas Association (WBA) estimates that 11-15 million jobs globally could be created in the biogas industry alone by 2030.

Bioenergy was also on the agenda. At the Summit’s High-Level Panel on Accelerating Clean Energy Technology Innovation, participants discussed how to scale up critical emerging technologies like batteries; hydrogen; carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS); and bioenergy. They drew upon the IEA’s Energy Technology Perspectives Special Report on Clean Energy Innovation, which shows the key role that innovation must play to meet energy and climate goals.

Given its presidency of the next UN climate talks, COP26, the UK is under increasing international and national pressure to show greater leadership in the energy transition. Sunak’s announcements of July 8 are the first step in the right direction, yet they have to be followed by a more comprehensive approach to unlock the potential of the clean energy transition – both in terms of economic growth and job creation – set out by the IEA in the Sustainable Recovery Plan. ADBA will continue working with government to this end.

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