Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How Countries Act on Climate Change- Insight straight from IRENA 7th Assembly

Just 2 days back IRENA's (International Renewable Energy Agency) 7th Assembly concluded in Abu Dhabi. During this Assembly United Nations President of General Assembly, Peter Thomson addressed in press conference that 90% of humanity are not aware of UN's ambitious SDGs adopted by 193 nations for sustainable development.
Peter Thomson, UN
So I am bringing exclusively for my readers a simplified information on how countries act on Climate Change.

What are Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

United Nations has set Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UN's says 'this Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity'.  So what are these SDGs? Just have a look at this chart below.
United Nation's SDGs from Agenda 2030

These 17 SDGs are further broken into 169 targets. Being a citizen of this planet, we all need to know these SDGs. When we talk about Green Consumerism, individuals choosing wisely it goes back to UN's sustainable development targets and these SDGs because these SDGs are related to Production and Consumption. Many people think, 'how it is related to me?' Or 'It's job of government not me'. But basically as comers it's our responsibility to say no to unsustainable consumption and increase demand of sustainable products and services. Not just governing bodies and organizations but all of us have a role in achieving these SDGs and take our society towards sustainable development.

What are Nationally determined Contribution (NDCs)?

During Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015, 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal called Paris Agreement, the first ever global climate change agreement between world nations. As of Dec 2016, 194 UNFCCC members (countries) have signed the treaty.

The agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C.

Before and during the Paris conference, countries submitted comprehensive national climate action plans (NDCs). These are not yet enough to keep global warming below 2°C, but the agreement traces the way to achieving this target. These NDCs align with at least 154 out of 169 SDG targets. World Resource Institute clarifies, 'A wide range of actions that countries put forward in their INDCs – both for mitigation and adaptation – provide enormous potential for mutually supportive implementation with the SDGs.'

Read here an analysis prepared by EDA, UAE for Operationalising and Implementation of Paris Agreement by GCC countries.

IRENA's 7th Assembly

International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), is mandated to be the global hub for renewable energy cooperation and information exchange by 150 Members countries. In Mr. Adnan Amin's words who is Director General of IRENA,“The Agency has developed practical tools to enable countries to better plan their energy transition. Our annual Assembly provides a critical opportunity for high-level engagement with our Members and partners to examine how international cooperation can speed the transition to a sustainable energy future through concrete action and initiatives.”
IRENA 7th Assembly

IRENA's 7th Assembly took place on 14-15th Jan in Abu Dhbai where governmental officials from more than 150 countries, 75 ministers and global energy leaders attended this highest decision making body of the Agency to accelerate Renewable Energy deployment.

As a sustainability writer, I attended the Assembly and brought you these insights and observations straight from Assembly hall.

2017 IRENA Legislatory Forum

During the IRENA Legislators Forum, legislators from around the world discussed the key role of legislators in accelerating the deployment of renewables.
IRENA DG, Adnan Amin 

Assembly president, Mario Giro, Deputy-Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy discussed the role of renewables in reducing migration pressure and improving life of displaced people.
Germany discussed optimizations of tools and development of new energy storage technology. While Brazil mentioned they like renewables because of it's short construction time is a hedge against economic uncertainty. Indonesia stated engaging private sector is must for countries to achieve their renewable energy targets. Korean government mentioned that they are encouraging private commercial banks to provide loans to energy storage facilities. UAE's Minister of Climate Change and Environment H.E. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi stated "UAE's committed to acceleration of renewable energy. we have raised our clean energy target from 24% to 27% till 2021. UAE will decrease carbon emissions by 70% by 2050." Director General of IRENA, Adnan Amin stated socio-economic benefits and increase of energy jobs are important factors of renewable energy sectors. Read IRENA's Renewable Energy Jobs report in 2016 here.

Ministerial Round-tables

During ministerial Round-table, Moderator of Assembly and delegate from Norway stated Ensuring access to modern energy is critical to achieve SDGs. India power and renewable energy minister Piyush Goel mentioned, India's goal is to bring energy access to 50 million households by 2022. Sudan mentioned, "Sudan is very large, we ask our people to seek micro-finance to implement renewable energy projects". Denmark mentioned "we view renewable energy planning from perspective of NDC implementation and national economic planning."

Funding Renewable Energy

During Assembly Abu Dhabi Fund for Development/IRENA Project Facility  announced fourth round of funding of USD 44.5 million. The projects selected in this funding round are
Marshall Islands: A 4.6-megawatt (MW) hybrid micro-grid project, using solar PV and advanced lithium-ion batteries, that will provide renewable energy access to over 16,000 people.
Niger: A project focused on rural electrification for over 150,000 people, using 2.1 MW solar PV micro-grids and solar home kits. 100 schools will be electrified, drinking water supplies will be improved.
Seychelles: A government supported solar PV utility scale project will integrate a 5-MW solar PV plant into an existing wind farm, demonstrating an innovative space-saving solution for this small island nation.
Solomon Islands: A government-backed 20 MW reservoir dam and hydropower facility will diversify the country’s energy mix, provide renewable energy access to 5,000 people, create around 400 jobs, and avoid 44,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

Applications for funding were evaluated by an international panel of experts who reviewed the projects based on their technical feasibility, economic/commercial viability and socio-economic and environmental benefits.

During Assembly ADFD and Antigua and Barbuda signed loan agreement in front of press to develop renewable energy in Antigua and Barbuda.

ADFD and Antigua & Barbuda signing loan agreement

ADFD has funded 350 million dollar to clean energy projects around the world through IRENA.

Launch of REthinking Energy 2017

IRENA launched REthinking Energy 2017 during assembly which examines latest trends in renewable energy and dramatic changes in energy sector across many countries.

REthinking Energy 2017
Plummeting costs and rapid innovation have spurred investments, transforming renewable energy from niche to an economically and technically preferred solution.

Renewable energy investment in power beat fossil fuels for 3rd year in row and developing countries are accounting for the first time for more than half of investment in renewable energy.

REthinking energy 2017 highlights the need of using renewable energy for heating and cooling in buildings and industry, and for transportation. Another interesting point this publication makes is, 7th SDGs, which is 'affordable and clean energy' can support all other SDGs can lead us to achieve sustainable development.
Renewable Energy supporting all SDGs

Finally some interesting Facts about developments in Renewable Energy Sector by now

# 173 Countries have adopted some type of renewable Energy

# Power Producers are increasingly turning towards geothermal energy

# 40% of fortune 500 companies have set sustainable energy targets.

IRENA assembly marked opening of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2017, follow me on twitter to get updates on ADSW2017!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Let's Target #ZerowasteUAE in 2017!

Happy New Year 2017 folks! It's a week late, I know but we still have 358 days to look forward to and set a brand new green new year resolution for 2017....we are all together living a greener, more sustainable life all these years, let's go a step forward and target Zero Waste this year!
Let's Go Zero Waste in 2017!

Actually it's not a brand new resolution for me, I secretly set Zerowaste as my new year resolution last year 2016, at that time I was not sure how much possible and successful it can be in UAE, being the consumer's paradise! So I decided to take a trial run before I involve all of you my lovely readers! I was a voluntarily guinea pig, you know! But I am so glad to share with you that my #ZerowasteUAE experiment was a good success, I am not claiming here that I went complete Zero waste in my life or at home. But I reduced waste considerably, it's more of Less Waste! But why to settle down on second best, when it comes to a goal? That's why I am calling our goal, "Zero Waste UAE".

I am sure most of you have already figured out this was coming, looking at my on and off posts about it, but for those who haven't noticed or those who don't know the philosophy behind it let's see what exactly is this Zerowaste Lifestyle?
My weekly Zero Waste grocery shopping

What is Zero Waste?

Zero waste as name suggests, No Waste; as in no trash sent to landfills. It's a philosophy that encourages redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reduced. It can be so sustainable that it is even beyond recycling. As we all know we can not keep recycling some materials like plastic again and again. There is always a dead end to recycling of plastic after few times. In fact materials like plastics and paper are down cycled, they degrade during recycling and finally end up on landfill where it can not be further recycled.  Metals are only materials which can be recycled almost infinitely. Glass, apart from some special glass ware, light bulb also can be recycled for n-number of times.

So In Zero waste we are not just reducing load from landfill and waste management systems but we are also reducing the pressure on recycling systems. Basically while adopting Zero Waste Lifestyle, we need to be mindful and green consumer! More sustainable materials and products we use, less waste we create!

To figure out which are those sustainable products, we can just revisit our old traditions. Those sustainable products will be basically plastic-free, toxins-free which will help us live more healthy, more happy! Less is more!
Let's reduce Waste in UAE!
If you are conscious enough and look closely you can always find all natural, sustainable alternatives. Just remember don't be fulled by labels like 'bio-degradable', 'organic', 'green' on the products. For example, if some product is bio-degradable, dig more within how many years. Sadly some plastics are bio-degradable but put lot of pressure on our Eco-system. But if the plastic is plant-based, bio-plastic then it's definitely sustainable!

Remember Zero waste doesn't mean 'think before you throw anything' rather it's more apt to say that'think before you consume anything'.  Already UAE government is taking steps towards green consumerism to make 'Sustainable UAE' but no country can progress without it's people take part in the change! We as consumers need to push this forward and demand more sustainable products so that the sustainable industry will flourish.

How can you participate in #ZerowasteUAE?

It's not all that difficult, as it sounds. As soon as the philosophy sinks in you automatically become a conscious consumer! But believe me it's a great way to simplify your life! Just remember to say no to single use, disposable items, start investing and loving your reusable items and you are ready to go!
Invest in Sustainable, Reusable Items
Join the Zero Waste UAE Facebook Community here, where you can find UAE specific daily information and resources for going Zero waste. In this community, you are free to discuss, ask questions, share new ideas and your experiences. You can also follow my journey of Zero waste in UAE and beyond on a dedicated Instagram account here.

I will be writing regular tips and ideas about how to go Zero Waste in UAE from my last year's tried and tasted experience, so keep checking the new blog posts. For now to start with, read an older post about, Going Plastic Free in UAE, you will find how to replace plastic disposable items at the end of that post. But the simplest word of advice is focus on Own Less Stuff and Enjoy More Life!

I am inviting you all to join me on this mission like a campaign! Let's take one day at a time and try to make it a Zero Waste Day! Are you with me in this?