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A new global platform set up by the IKEA Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation is set to empower 1 billion people with distributed renewable energy (DRE). The platform, a US$1 billion initiative, aims to fight energy poverty and climate change with renewable energy generated from mini and off-grid solutions located near where people need them most.
According to the two foundations, the new joint charity project represents the “single largest distributed renewable energy initiative” to date. Together, the IKEA Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation will pour US$1 billion into the campaign, which aims to deliver DRE to 1 billion people and reduce 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Set to launch later this year, the campaign will be operated through a global public charity platform to oversee the combined funds from the two foundations, which will go to on-the-ground life-changing projects all over the world.
‘Current approach is not delivering the impact the world needs’
While funding has dramatically increased for renewable energy projects, with decarbonisation spending reaching US$500 million for the first time in 2020, the new IKEA-Rockefeller project says that there is still a lack of “viable, investment-ready projects”.
“As a result, many emerging economies still depend on unreliable and polluting energy sources,” said the charities in a press statement. Beyond the enormous climate footprint of fossil fuel power, energy poverty remains pervasive in the current system.
We need to be honest and recognise that the current approach is not delivering the impact the world needs in the time that we have.Per Heggenes, CEO, IKEA Foundation
At present, 800 million people continue to lack access to electricity worldwide. A further 2.8 billion suffer from unreliable access.
“If global energy consumption doesn’t change from fossil fuels to renewable energy, we will not meet the Paris Agreement ambitions and millions of families will be left behind in poverty,” said Per Heggenes, CEO of the Swedish furnishing giant’s charity arm. “We need to be honest and recognise that the current approach is not delivering the impact the world needs in the time that we have.”
Distributed renewable energy
The IKEA-Rockefeller platform is laser focused on distributed renewable energy or DRE. As opposed to centralised sources like power plants, DRE refers to clean energy generated from mini-grid and off-grid solutions, situated near the point of use.
“Our collective ambition is to create a platform that supports renewable energy programmes which can deliver greenhouse gas reductions fast and efficiently and accelerate the energy transition,” explained Heggenes.
“We need to replace polluting sources of energy with renewable ones, provide access to energy to communities and unlock further funding for sustainable models. Ultimately, we aim to unite countries and communities in urgent action to tackle the climate crisis and, by doing so, we hope to positively impact the lives of 1 billion people.”
Rebuilding from Covid-19 sustainably
Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, says the joint initiative is designed to kickstart a green recovery from the pandemic.
“Millions of lives and trillions of dollars have been lost to Covid 19, forcing people back into poverty after decades of progress. The effects of the climate crisis will make this even worse, which is why we must invest now to reverse this downward spiral,” said Shah, echoing the call made by U.N. secretary-general António Guterres in early June.
Speaking to the world’s major economic powers who were headed for the G7 summit, Guterres said that countries must uphold their promises of a green recovery. “We need to make sure we reverse the trends, not maintain the trends. It’s now clear we are coming to a point of no return.”
We must invest now to reverse this downward spiral.Dr. Rajiv Shah, President, Rockefeller Foundation
According to Shah, the global platform with IKEA Foundation represents a “big, bold and pioneering collaboration and investment” to “galvanise a better future.”
“Our partnership will unlock the financing and resources that are essential to provide clean, reliable electricity that improves the lives and livelihoods of people everywhere,” he added.
Pressure to eradicate fossil fuels gaining momentum
The announcement of the world’s largest DRE initiative to date comes amid mounting public pressure on governments and firms to decarbonise the global energy system.
Global energy watchdog IEA recently released a landmark report calling for an immediate end to all oil, gas and coal projects. It built on top of its previous statements saying renewables have proven to be the only source resilient to energy shocks amid Covid-19.
Several dirty energy giants have also come under greater scrutiny in the past months, with the likes of Shell being told by a Dutch court to change its business practices and align its policies with the Paris agreement, while ExxonMobil and Chevron both faced investor rebellions during shareholder meetings, forcing the firms to slash their carbon emissions.
Lead image courtesy of Unsplash.