Mission innovation participants
2 December 2015

COP21: solar, carbon, innovation… Six initiatives that are changing things

Alongside official negotiations, the Paris Climate Conference also heralds the launch of unique, ambitious multilateral initiatives. Whether they originate from the States, NGOs, companies, foundations or local authorities, they will advance funding for renewable energies, the development of low-carbon technologies and innovation transfers.
Content published under the Government Valls II from 2014 26th August to 2016 11th February
 
COP21 means negotiations and decisions, but also solutions. The initiatives announced (like the Solar Alliance) point to gathering momentum and create a stimulating context.
Laurent Fabius
President of COP21, 2 December 2015
 

Monday 30 November

The International Solar Energy Alliance

 
The President of the Republic, François Hollande, and the Indian Prime Minister launched the International Solar Energy Alliance, in the presence of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, at an event marking the opening of the COP21. This project is another example of the growth of renewable energies, and is one of the most obvious ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 
 
More than 100 Heads of State (particularly from African countries and other states located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn with solar potential), were invited to join. 

The Alliance is underpinned by the desire to unite efforts made by developing countries to attract investment and technologies in this sector and develop the use of solar energy. It serves as a common platform for cooperation between countries rich in solar resources fully or partly located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. In concrete terms, it aims to:
  • bring clean, renewable energy within reach of everyone, at an affordable price;
  • undertake concerted, innovative efforts to reduce the financing and technology costs of the immediate deployment of solar installations;
  • increase significantly the production of solar electricity;
  • work on supporting R&D facilities, the role of standards, and making it easier to evaluate resources;
  • enable cooperation between industrialised countries, who have the technologies and the finance, and developing countries. 
Solar energy is the most abundant of the renewable energies in developing countries, but the technologies and financing are still insufficient.
 

The innovation mission

 
The “Mission Innovation” launched on Monday by François Hollande, Barack Obama and Bill Gates should enable a significant increase in public and private investment in clean energy. For the governments, the 19 States present committed to double the budget allocated to R&D in the sector within 5 years. In the private sector, 27 influential investors, members of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, agreed to support the development of these technologies with unprecedented private capital in countries that have joined the initiative.
 
To meet the challenges of climate change and be able to collectively limit the rise in temperatures to 2°C, innovation is a central issue. The main difficulty for these emerging technologies is getting from the prototype stage to large-scale commercialisation. While considerable progress has been made in recent years, for example in the renewable energy sector, where costs have dropped significantly, current investments are not up to the challenge. “Mission Innovation” intends to provide these technologies with the means to fully play their role in the fight against climate change.

For France, additional investment will be focused on renewable energies and their storage, CO2 capture and storage technologies, and innovations enabling better management of energy use and demand (in industry, transport, the circular economy and smart networks for example). This will be reflected in the Investments for the Future Programme (PIA).

As well as France and the United States, 17 other countries have joined the initiative and announced similar commitments: Germany, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, South Korea, Denmark, the United Arab Emirates, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Norway, the United Kingdom and Sweden.
 

Carbon pricing

 
Alongside the COP21, the President of France also launched a “coalition of leaders for carbon pricing” with several Heads of State, the World Bank, the IMF, local authorities and business leaders from around the world.
Members of the coalition adopted a common action plan to advance carbon pricing by committing to share successful public policy lessons, engage companies and promote dialogue to increase use of the carbon price. Carbon pricing is an essential tool in enabling economic stakeholders to make firm commitments to the transition to a low-carbon economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions as effectively as possible.

The aim is not to set a single price: it must instead be to promote a gradual extension of the range of worldwide emissions covered by carbon pricing. Existing mechanisms (EU ETS, carbon tax in India, US Clean Power plan, etc.) and forthcoming initiatives (ETS market in China, etc.) are or will be in place in countries accounting for 89% of G20 GDP, or 75% of the global economy, by 2018. Therefore, the majority of the most carbon-intensive sectors are (or shortly will be) covered by a carbon price in most of the world’s major economies.
 
While the carbon price is too low everywhere, it is now no longer an exception but becoming the rule. This coalition will promote and accelerate the adoption of carbon pricing, so that today's investments create the conditions for more sustainable growth for a long time to come.


Tuesday 1 December

Climate challenge summit and African solutions


The President of the Republic chaired the “Climate challenge, African solutions” summit with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. It brought together twelve African Heads of State, the President of the African Union Commission and representatives of several governments and international institutions (World Bank, African Development Bank). François Hollande stated his ambition that the COP21 should help bring practical projects to fruition in Africa, encourage the adoption of a more carbon-friendly development model and support adaptation to the climate change observed on the continent.
 
He agreed to increase France’s funding of renewable energy in Africa to more than €2 billion for the period 2016-2020. This amounts to a 50% increase in French bilateral commitments compared to the last 5 years. Projects funded by France can be undertaken as part of the African Renewable Energy Initiative, launched by the African Union.
 
For the fight against desertification and adapting to climate change, France will gradually triple its bilateral commitments in Africa. This meets the request from African countries that funding for sustainable development now be directed more at adapting to climate change. France’s development aid will mainly target projects in the African Great Green Wall initiative, or preservation of Lake Chad and the Niger River. 
 

“4 per 1000” initiative

 
The “4 per 1000” initiative launched by the French Government is based on a simple principle: the more organic matter found in the soil, the more greenhouse gas is stored. Currently, soil around the world contains 2.6 times the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. The carbon capture potential of agricultural soil by 2030 is estimated at 2.9 gigatonnes of CO2 per year, or a 10% offset of our current CO2 emissions. Careful management of the terrestrial biosphere could thus lessen or even offset greenhouse gas emissions.

This is the “4 per 1000” concept developed by INRA (the French national institute for agricultural research): if we increase the organic content of soil every year by 4 grams per 1,000 grams of CO2, we could compensate for all the planet's greenhouse gas emissions in one year. France has chosen to make this concept a unifying and multi-partner facilitator at the international level, bringing together under its banner countries, local authorities, companies, professional organisations, NGOs, research scientists and others involved in farming practices in order to increase the stock of carbon in their soils every year. That is France's goal as part of its solutions Agenda for this COP21: to get all stakeholders using farming and forestry practices that will restore living soil and make carbon storage a major tool in the fight against global warming.

This is an agronomic approach that reconciles food production targets with sustainability, food security and climate change targets, and thus gets countries involved in COP21 that may feel marginalised, in particular the arid and semi-arid regions of the African continent. More than 100 States and organisations are supporting the initiative. 
 

CREWS, early climate disaster warning systems

 
In poor and vulnerable countries, meteorological data is often unreliable or entirely absent. Between 1970 and 2012, drought, floods, storms, tropical cyclones, sudden thunderstorms and extreme temperatures caused almost 2 million deaths and the loss of $2,400 billion worldwide.

CREWS is an initiative that aims to significantly increase the ability of integrated multi-risk warning systems to enhance prevention and information about the risks of dangerous hydro-meteorological and weather events. Its purpose is to protect lives, livelihoods and property in the least developed countries (LDCs) and small-island developing states (SIDS). CREWS is the result of collaboration between the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and the World Bank’s GFDRR.

The aim of CREWS is to mobilise $100 million to make up for funding shortfalls in existing bilateral and multilateral cooperation programmes. A World Bank trust fund will support the development of implementing organisations and institutions and their activities. France will contribute €10 million between 2016 and 2017 to this trust fund.


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