Leaders representing the countries that account for 80% of global energy consumption gathered today at the the IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit, the highest-profile energy and climate discussion since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s our highlights of the event.

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations opened proceedings by stating unequivocally that we can’t go back to where we were, we must invest in renewables – as it the only reliable, clean and economically smart option. He stressed that the global COVID-19 recovery must have climate action at its core, with government stimulus packages designed around three core elements: health, science and economics.

He said there were six key actions to consider:

  • Make societies more resilient;
  • Bailout support for industries must be aligned with the Paris Agreement;
  • No more money to be wasted on fossil fuels;
  • Consider climate risk in all financial decisions;
  • Create green jobs;
  • Companies must reveal plans to reach net zero.

China’s energy minister Zhang Jianhua stated that the country is focusing on building a clean energy system through expanded cooperation. He said that the post- COVID recovery coupled with the energy transition is complicated yet added that the pandemic highlighted the need to optimise the clean energy mix through policy coordination, as well as open and transparent communication and cooperation.

He said China would be enhancing its energy security through the further development of hydropower, biomass, PV, geothermal and clean fossil fuels.

Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshi Kajiyama, made it clear that no single path will achieve decarbonisation. Different nations will have unique needs, energy mixes, and challenges to overcome, he said. Japan is currently focused on ensuring a renewable baseload, and will be implementing policy to encourage the phase out of coal and decrease coal exports.

He said Japan will also be expanding on the 2017 National Hydrogen Strategy, as well as technology around carbon capture and recycling.

India was hailed as a leader in the green recovery. The country has used a number of green stimulus packages to drive the transition, boosting renewables uptake while driving economic recovery. Read more about how India has become the world’s largest and most competitive clean energy auction market.

Sushil Purohit, president of the Energy Business at Wärtsilä, said of the summit: “Green stimulus programmes after the global financial crisis stimulated GDP growth of between 0.1% and 0.5% for two years (depending on the scale of national ambitions) – even in the midst of a deep recession, where most countries’ GDP declined by 3% to 5%.

“Leaders must learn these lessons well and increase their ambition to expand clean energy sectors that are proven to create investment and jobs and tackle the climate emergency.

“Fast forward to the current pandemic, reduced energy demand driven by COVID-19 has clearly shown that our existing power grids can remain stable while record-breaking amounts of renewable power are integrated – at lower cost than fossil fuel energy. The current environment provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity for governments to boost green innovation within stimulus packages, accelerating the transition to net-zero.

“Technology is available now for countries to make the shift to 100% renewable energy, enabled and supported by battery storage as well as flexible generation transiting to use renewable and synthetic carbon neutral fuels. Plus, there’s a rich pipeline of technology innovation approaching commercialization – providing the cost-optimal flexibility we need to bridge the energy transition gap.

“We are hopeful that the IEA Summit will encourage leaders to implement the smart policy needed to scale up existing technologies and accelerate the readiness of emerging technologies – both are needed to underpin the rapid transition to an affordable energy system built with a 100% renewable, flexible energy mix.”

Listen to the Summit recording

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