Foundations announce $1bn for renewable energy in developing countries at UN energy forum

June 30, 2021
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The IKEA Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation have announced plans to launch a $1 billion fund to boost access to renewable energy in developing countries.

At the same session, Google reaffirmed its commitment to source carbon-free energy for all of its operations in all places, at all times, by 2030, setting a high bar for other tech companies.

These announcements, according to a statement by the UN, came at the UN Ministerial Thematic Forums on energy. The Forums held 21 to 25 June, are part of an effort to engage governments, businesses and financial institutions to develop “energy compacts” that spell out plans to ensure universal access to clean energy and a pathway to net-zero emissions. The Forums are focused on actions that would achieve the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 7 on energy by 2030.

The IKEA Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation announced they will join forces to set up a $1 billion catalytic fund, committing $500 million each to scale up distributed renewable energy around the world. This would generate power from sources such as mini-grids and off-grid sources that are located near the point of use, rather than centralized sources like power plants. The combined funds will be overseen by a new global platform – launching this year – that will aim to rapidly channel development funds to projects on the ground. The initiative will be formalized as an Energy Compact in the weeks ahead.

“We have the responsibility and the opportunity to keep global warming below the 1.5°C ceiling,” said Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation. “Through the initiative we launch today, replacing diesel generators and coal-fired grids with renewable alternatives, we can achieve a double impact: cutting greenhouse gas emissions now and preventing a further increase in the future. By doing so, and working closely together with governments, development finance institutions, private sector and others, we hope to cut 1 billion tons of CO2 emissions and positively impact the lives of 1 billion people.”

“COVID-19 has divided the world in two, with one part of the world falling farther behind,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “This is our opportunity to build back better on a global scale—harnessing public and private funding and the latest renewable energy technologies. Too many people are still left behind without the reliable, clean electricity that’s needed to go to school and study in the evening, to work and grow a business or to access modern healthcare. The Rockefeller Foundation and the IKEA Foundation are investing $1 billion to empower people everywhere and combat climate change, and we call on governments, global Institutions and the private sector to join us.”

In announcing Google’s ambitious commitments as part of its Energy Compact, Kate Brandt, Chief Sustainability Officer, said “Climate change is the biggest risk we face as a society. That’s why we’ve embarked on our latest climate moonshot, to be the first company to operate 24/7 on carbon-free energy.”  She added, “To achieve our ambition we’ll work to develop the tools, partnerships, and coalitions needed to build a global 24/7 carbon-free energy movement and accelerate the policy changes we know are necessary.

We call on the world’s governments, cities, corporations and organisations to join us in this pursuit.”

Convened as the first global gathering on energy under the auspices of the UN General Assembly since the UN Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy in 1981, the overarching goal of the High-level Dialogue on Energy is to promote the implementation of the energy-related goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The ministerial meetings will lay the groundwork for the High-level Dialogue on Energy, a summit-level event to be held during the UN General Assembly this September.

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