How can we collaborate to realise the renewable energy transition in the Global South? – this question was at the heart of the discussion of our event „Working together for a Just Energy Transition in the Global South: Inspiration for legislators, implementers and civil society“. Jointly organised with the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU), the meeting allowed for dialogue across sectors and institutions.
The event brought together representatives of civil society, climate-vulnerable countries, businesses, and parliament, to share insights and discuss trends, challenges, and opportunities for a just energy transition in the Global South.
Renewable energy – in contrast to fossil fuels – being abundantly available and, being incomparably cheap, has the potential to enable a just societal and energy transition and can accelerate sustainable development in the Global South. The latest IPCC report already noted that mitigation measures – of which RE are the low-hanging fruit – are a “welfare-enhancing strategy” and that the benefits outweigh the costs in most regions. Through the use of decentralised solar solutions, this holds especially true for rather remote, rural areas. Upscaling Renewable Energy solutions on all levels and in all sectors can be the solution to improve energy access and eradicate energy poverty, strengthen local economies and resilient societies as well as mitigate global climate change.
The recent geopolitical changes have shown that global dependencies through energy supply chains and rising energy prices are vulnerable to disruptions. Harnessing local RE solutions could thus be a way to strengthen energy sovereignty, security and efficiency.
When concerned with the discourse around the energy transition in the Global South, we are faced with a diverse set of interconnected strands of discussion, inter alia, the international, the regional, the national and the local.
Talking about an energy transformation in Global South countries, we are faced with an imbalance between political and economic power, causation, and the responsibility for sharing the burden of problem-solving. Vulnerable nations must be considered and included in developing and executing strategies to tackle the climate crisis, volatile energy prices and realise the energy transition with its socio-economic benefits, states Sara Jane Ahmed, Finance Advisor to the Vulnerable Group of Twenty (V20) Ministers of Finance of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF). Interparliamentary cooperation and peer learning can support capacity building and carrying out the transition. Allocating budgets for upscaling renewable energy and creating the legal and political framework for a modernised energy system, parliamentarians must further support the process by allowing only for zero-carbon or low-carbon investments and diverting subsidies away from fossil fuels.
National 100% Renewable Energy (RE) roadmaps can help to highlight the barriers and opportunities for such a transformation and which policies would be required to realise it, argues Joachim Fünfgelt Head of Division Economy and Sustainability at Bread for the World. Based on a broad cross-sector debate on scientific findings of a countries’ energy situation, needs, dependencies and potential obstacles, 100% RE roadmaps provide a meaningful basis for discussion and the future path of the energy transition. He further points out that civil society organisations (CSOs), as credible and knowledgeable actors in communicating and working on issues of most marginalised groups, bring a keen understanding of the local and national conditions, and the legislative and political frameworks, essential for the success of RE transformation, to the table. Through political advocacy and the cooperation between CSOs and MPs reliant, appropriate, and lasting changes to the national energy systems can be achieved.
Members of Parliament (MPs) are the relevant actors to (re-)frame the political and legal framework and increase the budgets for energy-related investments and a strong and sustainable renewable energy transition. They are, simultaneously, responsible to find a language to communicate the relevance of energy transition: in terms of just transition and the socio-economic benefits. There is often a divide between political actions and the interest of the communities and people. By involving the people in the process of the energy transition, communicating the impacts as well as the benefits and exposing the interests of invested groups, MPs can influence the people’s perception of the process as well as safeguard the success against adverse interests, says Hon Paola Vega, Member of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica. However, MPs alone lack the authority to realise the energy transition. In cooperation with CSOs, the business sector and based on scientific findings, credibility can be ensured, and the transition be based on a broader foundation and joint ownership across sectors. This in turn leads to increased sustainability of policy changes, as they become less dependent on electoral cycles. International parliamentary networks that allow MPs to access relevant information and exchange are a key component in sharing lessons learned, including acting and former MPs and support capacity building.
On a more local level, the falling prices for renewable energy solutions have shown their potential for a successful energy transition and electrification of Global South countries. The increasing affordability of decentralised RE solutions and Solar Home systems is an indication of this. However, there is a lack of appropriate and affordable financing options for people most marginalised, stresses Catherine Adelmann, founder of Fosera. By creating reasonable financing schemes for individuals and small-holder farmers as well as subsidies through parliament for the most vulnerable groups, parliamentarians can support the energy transition in rural areas and contribute to local economic development.
In cooperation with other MPs and actors from civil society over businesses to academia, members of parliament can bridge the different policy levels from local to international. Based on this collaboration and exchange they are provided with the necessary information to develop and install relevant and supportive RE legislation and ensure their countries’ energy sovereignty, reduce energy costs, and simultaneously reduce energy poverty, gender-related issues, environmental degradation and improve people’s health and education. Bärbel Höhn, Chair of the Global Renewables Congress, encourages to not only look at energy from the sources side but from the side of the services and welfare benefit it provides, such as electrification, health, gender equality, education, intact environment, poverty reduction etc.
Mr Alexander Bonde, Secretary-General of the German Federal Environmental Foundation
Hon Bärbel Höhn, Chair of the Global Renewables Congress
Keynotes & Discussion on the role of Renewable Energy and a Just Energy Transition
Aspects of Global Justice and the role of civil society – Dr Joachim Fünfgelt, Head of Division Economy and Sustainability, Bread for the World
The Climate Prosperity Agenda of climate-vulnerable countries – Ms Sara Jane Ahmed, Finance Advisor to the Vulnerable Group of Twenty (V20) Ministers of Finance of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF)
Parliamentary Climate Action and the role of legislators – Hon Paola Vega, former Member of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica and Member of the GRC
The Entrepreneurial perspective and the role of innovators in driving energy access – Ms Catherine Adelmann, Founder and General Manager of Fosera
Moderation: Mr Stefan Schurig, Strategic Advisor to the Global Renewables Congress