Andrew Steer: More energy in the sprint to Paris

Reading time: 3 minutes
14 September 2015

With just seven days to go until the start of Climate Week NYC, The Climate Group publish an exclusive blog from Andrew Steer, President & CEO, World Resources Institute, about the links between the UN Sustainable Development Goals, clean energy and climate action ahead of Paris.

In the sprint to the Paris climate negotiations, something very important is happening.

The conventional wisdom that addressing climate change will cost money, jobs and growth is being well and truly debunked. The coincident Climate Week NYC and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit in New York City next week illustrates this in spades.

Consider the 17 new SDG goals and 169 targets, a global blueprint for human and economic progress in the coming 15 years. Individually and combined, they will promote more growth, dramatically reduce poverty and set the world on a path to solve climate change.

Just one example (and there are dozens of them): Policies to promote more human-centric cities will lead to more growth, save trillions of dollars and dramatically close the carbon gap.

Similarly, investments in landscape restoration will sharply increase agricultural yields, improve resilience and bring billions of tons of carbon back to earth. New initiatives to cut food waste in half will lead to better food security, more efficient investment and huge cuts in carbon emissions.

Nowhere is this principle clearer than in the goal for universal access to sustainable, affordable energy.

Bringing electric power to the 1.4 billion people who currently don’t have it will be cheaper and more effective if supported by investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Those without electricity today spend the equivalent of US$30 billion annually on dangerous, polluting, inefficient kerosene lamps.

A recent report shows solar lighting could do the job for less than one-tenth that cost, freeing up US$27 billion for other purposes, including equitable, low-carbon economic development.

Some 360 million of these people live in India, where the scale of market opportunity in the off-grid renewable energy sector has vast potential. The market for solar home energy systems in India alone will be worth $215 million by 2018.

We all need to work together on these amazing win-win investments.

The intersection of climate action, sustainable economic development and clean energy is a place where long-term prosperity can grow.

Climate Week NYC and the Sustainable Development Goals summit at the United Nations sit right at that intersection.

Let’s build on this momentum to move to a brighter, more prosperous future for all.


Our digital countdown to Climate Week NYC 2015 runs from September 1-20.

Each day The Climate Group is releasing exclusive conversations with key figures from the worlds of business and politics and beyond – through video, social media and blogs – as well as expert briefings. Follow @ClimateGroup for the latest.

Climate Week NYC is a key event in the international calendar that brings together lading governments, investors, businesses, innovators and opinion formers. The Climate Group launched Climate Week NYC in 2009, and has acted as the secretariat since its inception.

Host to more than 100 affiliate events from September 21-28, Climate Week NYC 2015 is the collaborative space for climate events in support of the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda. | @ClimateWeekNYC | #CWNYC

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