12 of December 2015

Historical Paris Agreement confirms the importance of renewables

After two weeks of negotiations, the COP21 Paris Climate Conference approved a binding global agreement among 196 countries, developed and developing, to commit themselves to move towards a low-carbon economy and take measures to limit global warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels through the year 2100.

For the first time, this agreement involves all countries in the world to join the fight against climate change and global warming. The final agreement involves several legally binding clauses dedicated to reducing the dependence on fossil fuels (mineral coal, natural gas, and petroleum) within many countries, and to rolling out a huge expansion of renewable energy.

Key points

The measures in the agreement included:

  • To peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century
  • To keep global temperature increase "well below" 2C (3.6F) and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C
  • To review progress every five years
  • $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future.

Following the adoption of the Paris Agreement by the COP (Conference of the Parties), it will be deposited at the UN in New York and be opened for one year for signature on 22 April 2016--Mother Earth Day.

Earth Day 2016. 22ndApril, has been chosen in the decision document as the day for formal signatures to the Paris Agreement. Ban Ki-moon has been requested to organize a signing ceremony in New York at UN headquarters.

This conference was characterized by the abundance of a number of major cooperative initiatives on renewable energy, energy access and energy efficiency which were announced during Energy Day.

Some examples:

The UN and partners launched a US$5 billion effort to expand renewable energy in Africa. The amount will come from public and highly concessional finance between 2016 and 2020, with an additional US$15 billion in leverage from the Green Climate Fund, and other bilateral and multilateral sources

The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) was launched to spur the installation of 10 gigawatts (GW) of new and additional renewable energy capacity on the continent by 2020. [UNFCCC Press Release]


The Africa Clean Energy Corridor (ACEC) announced plans for a similar corridor in West Africa. [ACEC Brochure]

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) announced US$2 million in funding to kick-start a clean-energy investment initiative called the Climate Aggregation Platform (CAP). [GEF-UNDP-Climate Bonds Joint Press Release]

Other energy-related announcements at the Paris Conference include the International Solar Alliance (ISA), an initiative led by the Governments of India and France that has garnered the support of 120 countries. Among other commitments, the supporting countries express their intention to collectively mobilize more than US$1000 billion by 2030 to scale up solar energy deployment. [UNFCCC Press Release]

GOGLA and ARE also joined forces to underline the crucial role renewable energies can play to help achieve the objectives of COP21 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In the statement, both parties welcome efforts by the European Commission to facilitate clean rural electrification projects through its new facility, the Electrification Financing Initiative (ElectriFI). Read more in this ALER article.

Photos © Reuters