June 2, 2016

Call to Accelerated Clean Energy Action

Innovation and entrepreneurship are needed

Written by
Anne Arquit Niederberger

The 7th Clean Energy Ministerial hosted by the United States this week in San Francisco has delivered both a sense of optimism and a reality check.

Optimism that governments and the private sector working together and collaborating globally can deploy clean energy technologies to address climate change, but tempered with the realization summed up by California Governor Jerry Brown in his remarks to visiting leaders that our efforts are still inadequate:

This is important that you’re here — that’s big — but the threat and the task, the complexity, the cost and the political resistance is formidable. So this is not for the faint of heart, this business of climate change is not for wimps…We have to renew our commitment, we have to deepen our understanding, we have to intensify our effort.

The Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, backed up this statement with conclusions from the IEA’s Energy Technology Perspectives 2016 that deployment of clean energy needs to accelerate to limit the global temperature rise to 2°C and that ambitious action in urban areas will be instrumental in achieving long‑term sustainability of the global energy system.

Featuring governments, non-profits, international organizations, and California-based companies like Apple, Google, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Wells Fargo, today’s Public Private Action Summit offered a rapid-fire panorama of ongoing initiatives. It also highlighted the challenges ahead, some of which will require new policies that give the right signals to the private sector, particularly in the energy sector.

Another theme that emerged — as exemplified by the Startups & Solutions Showcase that filled Union Square with over 100 innovative clean energy technologies and solutions — was that creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship are needed to achieve the dramatic carbon cuts needed.

For clean energy leaders, three thoughts characterize the CEM action agenda: Urgency — Optimism — Cooperation. It will be exciting to see what the clean energy community collectively delivers by CEM8 in China.

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