COP26: Ogunbiyi Wants Faster Action on Sustainable Energy

At the just concluded 26th Conference of Parties, COP26 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow, Scotland, the CEO and Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General for Sustainable Energy for All, Damilola Ogunbiyi, during the Energy Day opening plenary highlighted the role of SDG 7 in meeting climate objectives and the need for faster action. Funke Olaode reports

The alarming rate at which climate change is causing havoc globally is overwhelming with global leaders regularly putting heads together on how to take care of his environment, in order to protect the human race. This was also on the front burner at the just concluded COP26.

During the Energy Day opening plenary session held on Thursday November 4th, 2021, the Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General for Sustainable Energy, Damilola Ogunbiyi, who also doubles as the United Kingdom co-chair of the of the UN COP26 Energy Transition Council, called for affirmative action to make access to electricity and clean cooking available for all without leaving anyone behind. She also said world leaders must join the Race to Zero campaign, to accelerate net-zero carbon emission commitments in line with the Paris Agreement.

At the gathering, Ogunbiyi on behalf of her principal, delivered a speech which centered around the coal and clean power panel, and also highlighted the role of SDG 7 (universal access to clean and affordable energy) in meeting climate objectives and the need for accelerated action.

Ogunbiyi, on behalf of the Secretary-General thanked the COP President, Alok Sharma and his team for their efforts, for prioritizing sustainable energy at COP26, including through the Energy Transition Council.

Ogunbiyi stressed that the meeting could not have come at the right time as energy accounts for over two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions, adding, “but at the same time, 759 million people in this world still lack access to basic electricity and over 2.6 billion don’t have access to clean cooking solutions.”

Emphasizing how to accelerate net-zero carbon emission, Ogunbiyi said commitments aside, all stakeholders must cut emissions drastically. “The Emissions Gap report just released by United Nations Environment told us that new and updated NDCs only take 7.5 per cent off predicted 2030 emissions, while 55 per cent is needed to achieve the Paris Agreement. Also, we must deliver on the promise we made in Sustainable Development Goal 7 to provide affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all,” she said.

Ogunbiyi said this was not compatible with the commitment made in Paris or the promise made in 2015 to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030: “If we are to do this by 2030, we need to radically rethink how we deliver energy services. We must answer the call of the UN Secretary General and the COP President to consign coal to history, starting with OECD countries by 2030, and globally by 2040. And after 2021, no new coal power plants should be in the pipeline.”

“But, if this is the year we are to put an end to coal, it also must also be the year that we prove to developing countries that clean power is the most attractive and most affordable option, by providing them with a clear clean energy offer.”
Ogunbiyi said certain steps must be taken through technical assistance, collaboration, and making finance for clean energy drastically easier to access.

She adds: “We must show why clean energy is an important part of the blueprint for a sustainable future and move beyond thinking that providing clean energy for basic household access is enough. It must be clean energy for access, economic growth, and industrial development.”

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