The World Future Council, Bread for the World and CAN-Tanzania hosted a workshop in February Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to kick-off an 18-months project, aiming at exploring the feasibility of 100% RE targets and its implications for Tanzania’s Sustainable Low Carbon Development and Poverty Reduction Goals.
40 Chinese Mayors visit World Future Council Headquarters
As part of the Sino-German Mayor Exchange, over 40 mayors from different provinces of China visited the World Future Council in Hamburg last Friday, 22 September 2017. The workshop’s aim was to inform about the experience with cities’ resilience, building regenerative and climate resilient cities and to exchange views on sponge cities.
Focusing on the German experience on urban water sustainable management, Stefan Schurig from the World Future Council gave an introduction to regenerative cities in connection with sponge cities. Thereafter, Professor Ralf Otterpohl, Director of the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection, TUHH (Technical University) Hamburg-Harburg turned to the topic of combining food and water security. Mr Daniel Schumann-Hindenberg from the Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl, then spoke about urban planning of sponge cities.
After the workshop, the World Future Council invited the participants to a reception into the premises of the Council’s headquarters.
The event was hosted by the German Ministry for Environment, Nature, Building and Nuclear Safety and the Chinese Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and carried out by GIZ and China Association of Mayors.
Dear Colleagues and Friends, After ten years with the World Future Council, I will be moving on and will be leaving the organisation for a new career step. It was truly an honor for me to serve the organisation since April 2007…
The F20 Platform is looking back to a successful event in Hamburg
The F20 Foundations Platform is an alliance of more than 45 foundations and philanthropic organizations from twelve countries that have joined forces in order to further shape the political discourse on future sustainability measures.
Ahead of the G20 summit in Hamburg, representatives from participating foundations got together to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the implementation of the Paris Agreement. In a joint statement, they called upon the G20 states to confirm their commitment to the Paris Agreement.
During the event in the prestigious Hamburg Town Hall, which was mainly organised by the World Future Council, WFC-Councillor Dr Auma Obama and Honorary Councillor Dr Michael Otto took part in the press conference. Dr Otto emphasised the importance of the implementation of the Paris Agreement and urged for more ambitious climate action, also in Germany: He pressed for a German withdrawal from fossile fuel and the promotion of renewable energies and carbon-neutral traffic.
During her speech at the event, Dr Obama stressed that African people must be included when talking about climate action: They should not be doing the same mistakes as the industrialised countries, and would be able to leapfrog developments. Other speakers included Laurence Tubiana, the architect behind the Paris Agreement, the US-american physicist and environmentalist Amory B. Lovins, as well as the British economist Lord Nicholas Stern. Around 400 people attended the event; the side-events before and after the main event included an energy transition tour through Hamburg and other workshops organised by F20 foundations.
At the end of the main event in Hamburg, the German minister for the environment, Barbara Hendricks, received the F20 publication. Climate action and sustainable development must become core duties of the leading industrialised and threshold countries. The Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is “short sighted and irresponsible”, as the F20 members state. We are positive that the event on the 4th of July here in Hamburg was just the start of a success story for common and transnational action towards a zero carbon economy and a successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
For more information on the F20 Platform, please visit www.foundations-20.org
Martin Bosak, Coordinator Foundation Platform F20, World Future Council.
A regional approach to achieving a European Renewable Energy Union
In times of rising populism, internal cleavages and climate scepticism across EU Member States, Europe needs to reconnect with its citizens. Uniting the continent and re-gaining people´s trust in the European integration has never been more relevant. In fact, building a European Renewable Energy Union with regions, cities, municipalities and indeed citizens at its core could be the vehicle to realize this goal. The idea of regional cooperation can fill the ambition gap between national energy strategies and a standardized EU-wide approach. For MEP Claude Turmes, rapporteur of EU´s renewable energy governance reform, the direction is clear: “We are stronger together. [..) Can we think of a more positive project than local energy citizens?” And Brendan Devlin from DG Energy in the European Commission adds “We now see that individuals and communities are the actors that can bring us to meet the Paris Agreement goals”.
EU legislation must foster regional cooperation on the sub-national level.
So, what is needed to put words into action? In a policy debate on cross-border cooperation for renewable energy, organized by the Heinrich Boell Foundation EU and the World Future Council, hosted by the European Committee of the Regions, about 50 policy makers and key energy stakeholders concluded that EU legislation must foster regional cooperation on the sub-national level. While the “Clean Energy Package for All Europeans” only supports member states to collaborate on renewable energy development and to interconnect the transmission grid across borders, municipalities and regions lack political support.
The project “Smart Energy Union Emmen Haren” (SEREH), which aims at building a regional, decentralized and mostly community-owned cross-border energy system, is a living example of the untapped potential that micro-level cooperation can unlock in accelerating the pace of energy transition in Europe. It is also illustrative of the current regulatory and legal barriers that local and regional pioneers are facing on the ground. “The current regulation is based on centralized systems that work top-down, while we need a distributed system that works bottom-up”, says Melinda Loonstra from the Dutch municipality Emmen. Emmen and its German neighbour Haren want to build a cross-border interconnection between their local renewable energy markets to become carbon neutral. “This link can help to build up a robust, reliable and affordable energy supply based on renewable sources in the Netherlands and Germany.” A direct exchange of electricity between the two regions could be the first step to another type of electricity market – a market where communities and small producers can trade their own energy via a digital platform. This micro-level form of cooperation could bring various advantages for European citizens: community-owned energy sources, keeping revenues in the region, reducing transport costs through local production and use, more affordable energy and the emergence of new businesses. One of the biggest challenges that Emmen and Haren are facing is conflicting national regulation on interconnection. And according to European law, only the Transmission System Operator (TSO) is permitted to transport electricity across border on the high-voltage grid. Also, legislative proposals that are currently discussed in the European parliament do not allow local DSOs to build interconnections on the medium-voltage grid between two countries.
According to Roberto Zangrandi, Secretary General of EDSO for Smart Grids, contradicting and diverse regulatory frameworks are indeed the biggest impediments to a rapid evolution of local networks. Depending on the respective national policies, the autonomy of the DSOs varies from country to country. In addition, the different support schemes, permitting procedures and administrative rules on the two sides of the borders also pose significant obstacles to the cross-border interaction between neighbouring regions or municipalities. Despite the possibilities for European funding of cross-border projects, these funds are in most of the cases considered out of reach for local actors, mostly due to co-financing and the complexity of application and reporting.
It is local actors that catalyse change.
However, it is exactly these local actors that catalyse change. As Jan Carsten Gjerløw from the Akershus County Council, Norway highlighted in the policy debate: “I think citizens and regions are actually the most important drivers. And we will see that governments and law, they will come after, they will follow up.” The City of Oslo has improved air quality standards, which has been the driving force behind the development of new national low carbon solutions in the transport sector. Also Susanne Nies, Corporate Affairs Manager with ENTSO-E underlines that local actors are at the frontline of innovation. “TSOs, regulators and national governments work in a triangle. The local level has to push this triangle.” Meanwhile, Magdalena Jaworska-Dużyńska from the Polish city Karlino highlighted that it is not only the big cities but also the small towns and municipalities that need political support. “People in Karlino want to be green and do more than the national government. But for this, we need Europe´s support.”
According to Claude Turmes, there should be an obligation to incorporate multi-level governance dialogue in the current legislation. The concrete proposal in the new governance regulation aims at establishing a permanent multi-level energy dialogue platform gathering among others regional and local authorities, civil society actors, business communities and investors to discuss different energy scenarios and shape the development of national energy and climate plans is a step in the right direction. It is now essential that Member States will institutionalize this dialogue in the legislative framework.
“The sky is the limit with this EGTC tool.”
A very concrete and in fact promising tool to support local actors especially in border regions is the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC). This tool has been designed to facilitate cross-border, trans-national or interregional cooperation in any sector. Regarding renewable energy, the EGTC can provide subnational frontrunner regions with regulatory support and flexibility to adopt a specific framework of rules and regulation in a specific cross-border territory. By creating one single legal entity to attract funding for cross-border areas, the tool will not be dependent on political changes at national level and could bring benefits directly to local communities without the need to involve national governments. This could simplify the complex and cumbersome administrative procedures and enable local and regional actors to develop long-term strategies in the context of a more stable regulatory environment. “The sky is the limit with this EGTC tool”, comments Slaven Klobučar from the European Committee of the Regions.
Aiming to strengthen territorial cohesion during its Presidency, the Luxembourg government launched further proposals for improving this legal tool that would allow cooperating cross-border regions to set up their own set of fitted legislation for a specific area or project. In this way, two municipal entities on both sides of the border could negotiate a specific regional legislative agreement that could be reviewed and approved by the national states before it becomes binding. While it would not deprive Member States from sovereignty, it will give possibilities to regions to “pull legislation from one side of the border to the other” and become “living laboratories”. The improved tool could also provide legal certainty to bottom-up initiatives, ensure better control of the outcomes, accelerate the adoption of new rules and promote cross-border experimentation zones. The next step in the process is the implementation of this tool. “The ball really lies with the Commission”, explains Frederick Richters from the Government of Luxembourg. In order to bring these concrete suggestions to fruition, the Commission has to turn them into a legislative proposal, for example, through incorporating them into the EU cohesion policy package.
One of Luxembourg´s supporters in this process is Alexandra Lafont from Mission Opérationelle Transfrontalière. “Often people do not even know which people to speak to on the other side of the border. This is why they need platforms and institutions” , she points out in the policy dialogue in Brussels. In fact, in a Europe that is close to its citizens, EU institutions should be seen not only as a regulator but rather as an enabler that brings together various actors at different levels, promotes an interactive exchange through an institutionalized dialogue and facilitates access to financing for small towns and municipalities and community-owned projects. “Europe is more than legislation” , says Brendan Devlin from DG Energy in the European Commission. “Even though it will be difficult to move from a regulator towards an enabler of policy outcomes, this is what we need.”
– Radostina Primova (Heinrich Boell Foundatin EU Office), Maren Preuss (Heinrich Boell Foundatin EU Office) and Anna Leidreiter (World Future Council) –
To watch the recording of the full policy debate that took place on 6 th June 2017 in the Committee of the Regions in Brussels, please click here. You can also find some photos here and more background information about the topic and other activities in this programme here.
Dr Abouleish, founder of SEKEM, received the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ in 2003 for implementing an innovative business model which combines commercial success with social and cultural development.
Dr Monika Griefahn, Chair of the Foundation’s Board, said: “On behalf of the entire Right Livelihood Award family, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the Abouleish family. Dr Abouleish was a true visionary and trailblazer, and the world is only now starting to catch up with his 40-year-old model of environmentally sustainable, socially just and economically viable development. A joyful and warm-hearted person, he will be greatly missed by all of us and his many colleagues and friends around the world.”
Dr Abouleish founded SEKEM in 1977 as a blueprint for the healthy corporation for the 21st century. Taking its name from the hieroglyphic transcription meaning “vitality of the sun”, SEKEM was the first entity to develop biodynamic farming methods in Egypt and has since broadened its scope to address health, educational and cultural issues. Dr Abouleish also founded the Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development where students study science, technology, arts, engineering and economics with a strong emphasis on sustainability. Over the years, SEKEM and the Heliopolis University played host to meetings of the World Future Council and the Right Livelihood Award Laureates.
“Ibrahim Abouleish’s remarkable initiative SEKEM has brought the desert alive. His Heliopolis University broadens the human mind, challenging modern monocultural thinking. Both show how much more humans can achieve when their work is based on cooperation, solidarity, mutual respect and the common good. His life achievements SEKEM and Heliopolis University are pioneering projects healing people and planet,” said Right Livelihood Award and World Future Council Founder Jakob von Uexkull.
A tireless advocate for sustainable development over five decades, Dr Abouleish has received numerous awards and recognitions in addition to the Right Livelihood Award, including the German Federal Cross of Merit and the United Nations ‘Land for Life’ Award. He was also named a distinguished social entrepreneur by the Schwab Foundation.
According to Islamic traditions, Dr Abouleish will be buried tomorrow, Friday, 16 June at 12:00.
Sustainable development can only be reached by transitioning to 100% Renewable Energy (RE). In fact, 100% RE is more than just replacing fossil fuels with renewable sources in today’s energy system. It can serve as a mean for socioeconomic development and help create a just society for today’s and future generations. Hereby, it supports the implementation of each sustainable development goal. You want to know how? Let´s have a look.
To end poverty in all its forms everywhere (SDG1), reduce vulnerabilities and ensure equal opportunities to economic resources, the access to energy is a prerequisite. Access to modern energy services is regarded as a prerequisite for a life of dignity. This applies to substantive human rights such as access to clean water (SDG6), good nutrition (SDG2), health (SGD3), safe shelter (SDG11) and education (SDG4).
This is why SDG 7 urges us to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. This means nothing less than implementing 100% Renewable Energy. It embraces the necessary paradigm shift and is the fastest, cheapest and indeed only way to “leave no one behind”.
Producing energy from natural powers such as sun and wind is possible everywhere. Their modular and decentralized nature allows for great flexibility. Even the smallest communities can have a small solar system installed or an off-grid mini-grid and gain control over their own energy supply, without the need to abide to large corporations in charge of large, centralized energy distribution. In big cities, renewables can provide basic services such as reliable electricity for vulnerable people living in slums and clean fuel to reduce air pollution (SDG11 & 3). Hereby renewable energies reduce inequalities (SDG 10), especially between urban and rural population. They allow paying attention to the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized populations, especially women and children who suffer most from insufficient basic service in their homes (SDG5). A 100% RE approach enables all countries to depend only on the most equitably distributed energy of all: abundant and clean renewable energy, distributed within their own borders, close to their communities and accessible by everyone.
To ensure access to water and sanitation for all (SDG6), “water-friendly” technologies from a life-cycle perspective are essential. Solar PV or wind could withdraw up to 200 times less water than a coal power plant to produce the same amount of electricity. Further, renewables are the most resilient and low cost option to access, treat and pump water especially in hot, dry regions. And here, we haven’t even touched upon the impact of fossil fuel extraction and transportation on the quality of water resources, the health of aquatic ecosystems and climate change. Clean water is also essential to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition as well as promote sustainable agriculture (SDG2).
Transforming our energy system to 100% RE allows the reduction of air pollution and brings down harmful emissions that cause diseases and climate change (SDG 13). Renewables therefore enhance health and well-being for millions of people (SDG3) who need treatment and cooled medication in hospitals and rural health centres, suffer from air pollution caused by the transport sector or coal-fired plants or those women and children who cook on charcoal and suffer from indoor smoke (SDG5). With fossil fuels being a major driver of global warming, reaching 100% RE as soon as possible is a prerequisite to limit it to 1.5C degrees (SDG13).
“100 % Renewable Energy for Sustainable Development “:
a film by Christoph J Kellner / studio animanova
Already today, renewables are the cheapest option for electricity production in many regions across the world, especially in isolated places. Thanks to falling prices for the equipment, the fact that wind and sun is for free and therefore renewables have practically zero marginal costs but also thanks to fact that renewables have no external costs, renewables are the most competitive source to produce energy. This is crucial to provide energy to all (SDG7), eradicate poverty (SDG1), achieve decent work for all (SDG8) as well as build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation (SDG9).
Renewable Energies can be installed, managed and owned by everybody. Hereby, 100% RE is also an opportunity to enhance procedural rights such as inclusive participation and access to information for of all (SDG1, 4, 5, 10). Further this means that, with the right finance mechanism, every citizen and community can not only benefit from energy services (for SDG 3,4,6 and 7) but also from becoming an energy producer and hereby drive innovative business models (SDG8&9). Implementing 100% RE can therefore unleash opportunities especially for entrepreneurs and build up new industries (SDG9). Thanks to their decentralised character, renewables create diverse and good quality job and income opportunities in every country in urban as well as in rural areas. Therefore they “leave no one behind”. In fact, renewables create more jobs per unit of energy than any other energy source (SDG 8).
As renewables technologies produce energy from abundantly available resources used in efficient and often smart infrastructures, a 100% RE approach ensures sustainable consumption and production patterns (SDG12). Using renewable electricity also for cooking, we could decrease the ecological burden on our ecosystem caused by unsustainable use of biomass. Also expanding use of biogas from organic waste helps achieving the reduction of waste, in particular food waste.
By transitioning to 100% RE, we could mitigate ocean acidification and conserve marine ecosystems as they are heavily impacted by oil and gas exploration and nuclear energy production (SDG14). The same is true for life on land (SDG15). A major and rapid uptake of RE is the only sustainable solution to limit the increasing effects of climate change on the ecosystems and biodiversity, whose delicate equilibrium is greatly disrupted even by the smallest changes in average temperature. Further, ecosystem disturbance and degradation resulting from direct or indirect effects of extraction can be stopped by adopting a 100% RE approach. Renewables have the least life-cycle ecological impact per kWh of energy produced.
Finally, a world powered with 100% RE would be a more peaceful, secure and fair place for all (SDG16). While there are certainly diverse causes for the existence of conflicts, many of them are connected to access to fossil fuel resources and infrastructure. By transitioning to 100% RE, countries, islands cities and communities can improve their energy autonomy and break free from oil, gas, coal and uranium imports which often cause geopolitical tensions or armed conflicts. As many communities across the world show, transitioning to 100% RE can also support better institutions and governance structures through what is known as energy democracy. Renewables provide the chance for all people to engage and benefit from energy as a common good (SDG10). They hereby help to develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions and broaden and strengthen participation (SDG16).
RE development requires strong cross-sectoral, transregional and transnational partnerships as well as a continuous exchange of solutions, best practises and lesson learnt. In fact, the effective and rapid implementation of a 100% RE target depends on a strong collaboration between local actors and other regional, national and international stakeholders and governments. Therefore, strengthening renewable energy partnerships (SDG17) goes hand in hand with improving the partnerships necessary for the implementation of the SDGs.
The wide-range of co-benefits linked to RE development reveal once again the strong interdependency among all aspects of sustainable development. In light of the vast benefits related to RE development and its instrumental role in supporting sustainable development, it becomes essential that policy makers and development organizations embrace the 100% RE message and integrate a 100% strategy into their development plans. The key policy recommendations to achieve this are:
- Set a 100% RE target and embed it across policy areas and in SDG processes
- Set a “leave no one behind” approach to energy policy
- Ensure adequate civil society participation and capacity building
- Enhance renewable energy in the cooking sector
- Prioritize energy efficiency
- Use fossil subsidies for funding
- Strengthen change agents and pioneers
At the COP 21 in Paris, the international community agreed on an agenda to cut greenhouse gas emissions to a level that will limit the rise in average global temperatures to 1.5°C. On 5 October 2016, the threshold for entry into force of the Paris Agreement was achieved. For a likely chance to stay below a rise of 1.5C, we have to reach zero emissions by 2050.
While the cost of renewable energy is decreasing; technologies are advancing rapidly – Now is the time to set the course for a rapid conversion of our energy supply towards 100% renewables, especially in Germany. This is the only way to ensure the implementation of the goals agreed at the Paris Convention, setting the existentially important objectives for global climate protection. The deliberate slowdown of renewable energy must end.
114 renewable energy experts from around the world share their views on achieving 100% renewable energy by 2050
More than 70% of the experts interviewed for the new REN21 Global Future Report consider a global transition to 100% renewable energy to be both feasible and realistic. Especially European and Australian experts most strongly support this view. There is an overwhelming consensus that renewable power will dominate in the future, with many noting that even large international corporations are increasingly choosing renewable energy products either from utilities or through direct investment in their own generating capacity. In fact, the report highlights as well that numerous companies, regions, islands and cities have set 100% renewable energy targets already, proving that it is a matter of political will. Nearly 70% of those interviewed expect the cost of renewables to continue to fall, beating all fossil fuels within 10 years’ time. Wind and solar photovoltaic are in fact already cost-competitive with new conventional generation in most OECD countries. Countries as diverse as China and Denmark are demonstrating that GDP growth can be decoupled from increasing energy consumption. Read more