“Moral Leadership” Through Action

By Traver Kennedy, Chairman and CEO on November 29, 2016
Traver Kennedy
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The World’s Most Disadvantaged Nations Pledge to Go 100% Green

On November 18, 47 of the world’s poorest countries committed to what a few years ago would have been unthinkable: fully green economies between 2030 and 2050. These brave nations are members of the Climate Vulnerability Forum which made their pledge at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Marrakech, Morocco.

This level of commitment would not only have been unthinkable less than a decade ago, it would have been considered a path to economic ruin back then, or at best, a well-intentioned statement. Today, it is a different story. Technological innovation in renewables and alternatives to fossil fuels makes committing to sustainability not only doable; it is seen as a smart move—especially for those countries whose existence is threatened by climate change and who experience the effects of it every day.


Visualizing a Green World

The plan signed by these countries a few weeks ago is called “the Marrakech Vision.” It commits members to “Strive to meet 100% domestic renewable energy production as rapidly as possible, while working to end energy poverty and protect water and food security, taking into consideration national circumstances.”

This agreement was negotiated for nearly two weeks behind closed doors within the framework of the Paris Climate Agreement they had all signed earlier this year and with the support and economic assistance of industrialized nations, especially the European Union. Miguel Arias Canete, the EU climate commissioner, issued a statement saying, “The commitments made by the Climate Vulnerable Forum today are both impressive and inspirational,” adding that, “they have once again shown their moral leadership in this process with real-world commitments to action. These countries are already living the terrifying reality of climate change today, and their very existence is on the line. The EU stands with them and their commitment to greater ambition in the years ahead.”

Ban Ki-moon, U.N. Secretary-General, applauded the commitment of these developing economies with the following statement, “The Secretary-General applauds the bold leadership shown by many of the world’s most vulnerable countries, many of whom are in Africa, to strengthen their ambition and to move as quickly as possible towards a 100 percent clean energy, climate-resilient future.”

Vision Made Possible by Innovation

A few weeks ago, we commented on the major milestone that the energy capacity of renewables overtook coal for the first time (see our post on Renewables overtaking coal here). This was based on a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA report indicated that renewables now represent the “largest source of installed power capacity in the world.” Although the caveat here is that renewables are “variable” resources (production varies depending on weather, location, and time conditions) and capacity does not necessarily mean actual output, the technological innovation around clean resources such as solar and wind is impressive.

Wind turbine design makes these impressive machines extremely efficient. Industry reports indicate that there are 314,000 wind turbines in operation around the world today, powering 3.7% of the world’s electricity (or as high as 11.4% in the EU). Solar innovation has also been exponential. Some analysts estimate that solar will provide 13% of the world’s electric power by 2030. Consumer excitement has also grown exponentially for solar. Just a few weeks ago, Tesla (who owns Solar City) unveiled its sleek new solar roof tiles, which Techcrunch called a “big deal.”

These technological leaps in two of the world’s most visible and popular renewables allowed the 47 poorest countries to commit to going green with confidence, especially because their commitment is backed by economic assistance to implement alternative sources of energy. In fact, on November 8, The Economist indicated that “much of the progress towards meeting these renewable energy goals will depend on finance from richer nations. They have promised that they will contribute $100 billion a year from 2020, as part of the Paris climate agreement.”

A Vision that can be Completed by Hydrogen Innovation

Renewables like solar and wind can take the pledges made by these nations so far. The vision to go 100% green in the next 30 years will also depend on additional innovations coming from other energy alternatives, such as hydrogen. At Joi Scientific, we are working to make Hydrogen 2.0 a no-compromise source of abundant, clean and affordable energy for people everywhere—in both developed and developing economies.

Our collective innovation efforts in non-carbon energy will assure that the brave countries who signed this deal, many of whom already suffer from the effects of global warming, can confidently keep their promise and make their economies thrive.


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