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Presentation at COP20 Highlights Impacts of Clean Energy Ministerial in Building a Low Carbon Technology Pathway

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Low-carbon energy technologies are a necessary part of any strategy to meet climate goals. On 9 December, the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) hosted a panel discussion during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP 20) in Lima, Peru. Representatives of several CEM member governments gathered to discuss the impacts of the CEM’s work to accelerate the transition to clean, low-carbon energy among the world’s largest economies and major emitters, as well as the role that the CEM can play in implementing actions and polices to help countries meet their energy-related contributions in a new climate agreement. 

Panelists included Mr. Sun Chenyong, Counsellor of the Department of Science and Technology for Social Development in China’s Ministry of Science and Technology; Mr. Christian Pilgaard Zinglersen, Deputy Permanent Secretary in Denmark’s Ministry of Climate, Energy and Building; Mr. Laurent Michel, Director-General for Energy and Climate in France’s Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, and Energy; and Dr. Jonathan Pershing, Principal Deputy Director of the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis in the U.S. Department of Energy. 

Pershing opened the discussion by describing the CEM’s unique approach and solid record of achievement. The CEM is a voluntary forum for multilateral cooperation on transformative clean energy initiatives. Work conducted through these initiatives has tangible impacts. For example, the SEAD energy efficiency initiative supported the adoption of comprehensive quality and performance standards for LED lighting in India that will save up to 277 terawatt-hours of electricity and avoid 254 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions; the Clean Energy Solutions Center provided no-cost policy support for Caribbean Community states in setting renewable energy targets; and analysis conducted by the Electric Vehicles Initiative is supporting the implementation of India’s National Mission on Electric Mobility. 

Panelists then spoke about some of the clean energy challenges their countries are currently facing. Mr. Chenyong described how his country is “in the crucial transformation from resource-based development to innovation-driven development” and is working to accelerate adoption of new energy vehicles and carbon capture, use, and storage. Mr. Laurent spoke about key issues that must be addressed to scale up renewables, noting cost reduction as a particular hurdle: “We must work on concrete, affordable solutions… to bring innovations to maturity or to work on implementation.” 

CEM provides a voluntary, collaborative forum for countries to discuss clean energy challenges, exchange best practices, and leverage knowledge and resources to accelerate technology innovation and deployment. International collaboration on energy policies and technology development can open markets for new clean energy technologies, accelerate and amplify progress, help countries achieve their nationally determined climate and energy goals, and catalyze action for even greater success in the future. “Multilateral collaboration is a significant part of [CEM work],” explained Dr. Pershing. “If we can find ways to act together, we can be more powerful, we can take advantage of joint efforts to reduce the cost, and we can do things more quickly.” 

Panelists also discussed their countries’ experiences in the CEM and the benefits. Participation in the CEM is voluntary, and member countries participate in selected clean energy initiatives that align with their national priorities. For example, Mr. Zinglersen explained that participation in the CEM has helped his country move “from bilateral to increasingly mixing bilateral with multilateral [cooperation],” in areas such as power sector transformation. 

Efforts through the CEM provide an opportunity to demonstrate how governments working together can achieve more ambitious emissions reductions. In this way, CEM work can facilitate and enhance international efforts on a new international climate agreement in 2015. 

Several panelists agreed that reaching a climate agreement in 2015 should not be the endpoint for clean energy discussion and advancement worldwide. “2015 is only a beginning, or should only be a beginning,” explained Michel. And the CEM is well positioned to provide support beyond 2015. Pershing explained, “The CEM provides a ready-made forum with implementation support for energy-related nationally determined contributions under the UNFCCC process.” 

The Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) is a global forum of the world’s major economies that work together to share best practices and promote policies and programs that encourage and facilitate the transition to a clean energy economy. Participating countries are major players in the global energy and climate conversation; they represent about 90 percent of the world’s clean energy investment and 80 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions. 

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