COP21: Banks, businesses step up clean energy investment commitments

In a joint statement released at COP21, a coalition of six of the world’s largest multilateral development banks said they will work together to "substantially increase" climate investments by mobilizing both public and private finances. They will also ensure development programs will consider both climate risks and opportunities.

Under the partnership, the African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), European Investment Bank (EIB), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the World Bank Group (WBG) have said they will increase climate financing until 2020.

"Each of our organizations has set goals for increasing its climate finance and for leveraging finance from other sources… These pledges support the $100 billion a year commitment by 2020 for climate action in developing countries." The specific goals were not shared; pv magazine has contacted the banks for more details.

The banks are already said to have delivered $100 billion for climate action in developing and emerging countries over the past four years. Meanwhile, in the run up to COP21, five of them pledged to increase climate financing to $170 billion over the next five years, over $100 billion of which will come from EIB.

RE100 commitments

RE100 has also seen increased commitment in the past two weeks from a number of businesses looking to procure 100% of their energy from renewables. Today, U.S. computer software company, Adobe said it would try and achieve this goal by 2035; it also simultaneously signed the American Business Act on Climate Pledge. Overall, it has set five goals, including: 100% renewable energy by 2035; the continuation of water conservation initiatives; and the diversion of waste from landfills.

Although it has been powered by 100% renewables since 2014, Microsoft also joined RE100 yesterday. It achieved this by investing in renewable energy projects and installing solar at its data centers, among other things. On Friday, Unilever also committed to sourcing 100% of its energy from renewables by 2030, and purchasing 100% of its electricity from the grid from renewables by 2020. It aims to both purchase renewables and generate them.

"We hope our ambitious move forward will both encourage others to do the same and give confidence to leaders attending Paris that business supports and is planning for an accelerated decarbonisation of our economy," said Unilever in a statement released.

RE100 Campaign Director Emily Farnworth tells pv magazine there is a growing momentum from businesses looking to commit to 100% renewables. While a total of 40 companies have joined the initiative since its launch last year, RE100 expects to see over 50 by next Monday, December 7. Most of the companies are U.S. and European-based, although two Chinese and one Indian have also committed. These figures are expected to grow going into next year.

Farnworth adds that solar is a particularly attractive renewable energy technology option for the companies, due to low costs and flexibility in deployment. RE100’s annual progress check is due out in January; the technologies chosen to aid the companies in their quest will be analyzed more fully then.

American Business Act on Climate Pledge

The latest news to have been announced against the backdrop of the talks is equally encouraging. In the U.S., the White House announced that a further 73 companies have signed its American Business Act on Climate Pledge, bringing the total to 154.

In addition to voicing their support for a positive outcome from COP21, by signing the pledge, the companies have committed to undertaking climate action. Each has devised company specific goals, such as reducing emissions and water usage, using 100% renewable energy and pursuing net deforestation in their supply chains.

Citing rising temperatures, persistent droughts, and an increasing number of natural disasters, the White House issued a statement saying, "No corner of the planet and no sector of the global economy will remain unaffected by climate change in the years ahead."

Calling for a low carbon future, with positive action agreed upon in Paris, it added, "We recognize that delaying action on climate change will be costly in economic and human terms, while accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy will produce multiple benefits with regard to sustainable economic growth, public health, resilience to natural disasters, and the health of the global environment."

High hopes

Hopes are high that this round of climate talks, currently underway in Paris, will, for once, yield tangible results. Indeed, since the last event, held in Copenhagen in 2009, costs have plummeted, while technological progress has come on in leaps and bounds. The share of renewables over the past few years has increased dramatically, and countries, governments, businesses and individuals are placing increasing importance on clean energy.

The news coming out of Paris over the past two days supports this movement: India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi launched the International Solar Alliance; the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, established by some of the world’s richest people, including Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson, pledged to invest their cash in clean energy projects; and over 20 governments vowed to double investment in clean energy innovation over the next five years.

The COP21 summit runs from November 30 to December 7. pv magazine will be reporting live from the event next week, in addition to providing ongoing coverage of the most pertinent stories over the next few days.