New York-Dubai-Antigua&Barbuda: Islands chart a course to 100% renewable energy
The year that is about to end will be the hottest ever recorded. It has also been the year of the first-ever Global Stocktake, a crucial comprehensive assessment of the world’s progress on climate action, released in October. Unsurprisingly, it found that the world is way off track to achieving the goals set out in the Paris Agreement.
At COP28 in Dubai, parties reacted and negotiated their response to such findings. The 2023 UN climate summit will be remembered for unequivocally signalling the beginning of the end of the fossil fuels era. Greening the Islands was present in the Blue zone of COP28 in Dubai to bring islands forward as leaders in the energy transition.
In spite of a worryingly unambitious start and strong opposition by the fossil fuel lobbies, Dubai’s final deal contains some significant steps forward. In particular, a historic indication to transition away from all fossil fuels; global renewables and energy efficiency targets for the current decade, which we supported backing the Global Renewables Alliance campaign; and a breakthrough deal on operationalizing the Loss and Damage fund, although several instrumental aspects yet remain to be defined, including prioritising islands.
However, we are still far from what’s needed and, as the window to keep 1.5°C in reach is rapidly closing, it has to be noted that the final text still does not provide the necessary balance required to reflect the unique vulnerabilities of small islands nor their specific asks.
Nearly 200 countries recognize islands’ need for enhanced access to finance, innovative technology transfer, and capacity-building support, yet not enough is being achieved especially in terms of adaptation, vital for islands worldwide.
The text underscores the role of the private sector in achieving low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development. Greening the Islands supports this view and believes that local island companies engaged in the circular economy can play a key role in the sustainable transition, allowing islands to differentiate their economies and create local jobs.
Nevertheless, islands are increasingly present in the agenda and visible around UNFCCC COP, something we have witnessed and contributed to organizing three important events showcasing how islands can chart a course to 100% renewable energy. We focused on showcasing technical and economic feasibility of 100% renewables, addressing the unique challenges islands face in achieving energy security, fostering inter-island collaboration and synergy in the Mediterranean and beyond, and promoting innovative policies and technologies to boost their energy transition.
Greening the Islands successfully collaborated and co-organized sessions with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), IRENA SIDS LHI, the Global Solar Council and the Global Renewables Alliance, the Government of Malta, the Government of Greece. Several top-level representatives from island governments around the globe enriched our sessions, such as: Hon. Toeolesulusulu Cedric Pose Salesa Schuster, Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Lands, Samoa; Hon. Miriam Dalli, Minister for the Environment, Energy and Enterprise, Malta; H.E. Viliami Va’inga Tōnē, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Tonga to the UN; Franceau Aubret Grandcourt, Deputy Chief Commissioner, Rodrigues Regional Assembly; Albert Martis, President of the Governmental Climate Change Platform, Curacao.
COP28 was a unique opportunity for Greening the Islands to strengthen islands’ voices and role as leaders in the energy transition, as well as to meet inspiring leaders, like-minded people, and organizations for improved cooperation. Among our main achievements:
- Curacao joined the 100% RES Islands Initiative;
- GTI signed a MoU with the Global Renewables Alliance to formalize cooperation to develop 100% renewable energy roadmaps for strategic islands leading up to the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4): Rodrigues (Mauritius), Curaçao, Tonga.
We now look forward to working closely with our partners to develop roadmaps for 100% renewable islands towards the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States.
I wish to express special thanks to Li Junhua, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs UN-DESA; Sai Navoti, Head of SIDS Unit, UN DESA; George Kremlis, Former Advisor to the Greek Prime Minister for environment, energy, climate and circular economy; Simone Borg, Climate Ambassador Malta; Josephine Farrugia, COO, Freezones Malta; Abigail Cutajar, Advisor to the Minister for Environment, Energy and Enterprise, Malta; Sonia Dunlop, CEO Global Solar Council & Vice Chair, Global Renewables Alliance (GRA); Julia Souder, Chair GRA & Executive Director Long Duration Energy Storage Council; Bruce Douglas, CEO GRA; Ben Backwell, CEO GWEC; Marit Brommer, Executive Director, International Geothermal Association; Eddie Rich, CEO International Hydropower Association; Jonas Moberg, CEO, Green Hydrogen Organisation; Henk Rogers, Founder, Blue Planet Alliance; Arieta Gonelevu Rakai, Programme Officer and Lead for the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative, IRENA; Licypriya Kangujam, Climate Activist & Founder at The Child Movement; Reyad Fezzani, Senior Technical Advisor Greening the Islands Foundation.