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These pages and sections capture news of climate change and stories about the groundswell of climate action by governments, companies, cities, the UN and civil society around the globe. To provide feedback, email us at press@unfccc.int Photo©Naziha Mestaoui

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At the UN climate change conference in Bonn, governments are looking at ways to increase ambition to tackle climate change before 2020, when the new Paris 2015 climate agreement is to enter into force. One key focus of a Technical Expert Meeting 3 June will be on renewable energy supply.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that around two thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions originate from the energy sector. Rapidly scaling up the supply of clean, renewable energy – above all solar and wind power - will be crucial to enable the international community to reach its goal of a maximum 2 degrees Celsius global average temperature rise.

To date, 164 countries have national level targets related to renewable energy, using different policy tools. And there are many encouraging trends that can be built on and reinforced.

Renewable Energy Accelerating in Developing Countries

The lastest data shows that renewable energy investments in developing countries are close to overtaking those in the developed world for the first time. Research from the UN Environment Programme and Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows that in 2014, US$270 billion was invested in clean energy technologies, a 17% leap from the 2013 figure of $232 billion. Of that, $139 billion was directed towards industrialised countries and $131billion invested in emerging or developing economies.

China alone experienced a 39% surge in renewables from the previous year in In 2014, with one in every three dollars globally invested in the renewable world-wide spent in China. Among developed countries the US led last year, with solar energy driving 7% renewables growth and with $36 bn of new funds entering the market.

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Image: Image: Energy Research Institute, China National Development and Reform Commission

Policy Incentives Still Crucial for Renewable Energy Deployment

Sound policies are essential for the rapid deployment of renewable energy. In many countries, such forms of energy have either reached grid parity or are approaching grid parity. But in other countries, adequate policy incentives have yet to be put in place.

An excellent example of a highly successful national policy to stimulate an increase in renewable energy is Germany’s introduction of an Electricity Feed-in Act in 1991.

This led to a growth in electricity generation from renewables such as wind, solar and biomass from 3.1% in 1991 to 16.9% by 2009. Germany’s leadership also helped drive technology and push down the costs of clean energy world-wide.

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Boosting Renewable Energy through International Cooperation and Support

International cooperation and the adequate provision of finance and technology remain essential to ensure that developing countries can develop clean, renewable energy. At the UN Climate Summit in New York last year, inspiring initiatives were launched to expand access in a number of locations, supported with finance and technology.

For example, the Africa Clean Energy Corridor (ACEC) aims to expand the portion of renewable energy used by the Eastern Africa Power Pool and Southern African Power Pool from its current 12 per cent to at least 40 per cent by 2030.

And the Small Island Developing States Lighthouse Initiative was launched to strengthen international cooperation and speed the development of low-carbon renewable energy resources, aiming to install about 120 megawatts of renewable energy in these countries by 2019.

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Image: The Cayman Institute

The Pure Business Case for Renewable Energy

Meanwhile, the pure business case for renewable energy support is becoming more and more compelling for companies. The cost of electricity from solar has halved between 2010 and 2014, so that solar photovoltaics are increasingly competitive at the utility scale.

Because of this, top international companies are setting ambitious renewable energy targets with a number of companies committing to be 100% renewable as an integral part of their business strategies, as outlined in a recent RE100 Insight Briefing Report. Here are just a couple of the leaders:

 

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Other great examples of companies, investors, cities and regions adopting the ambitious renewable energy targets are showcased on the UN’s newly updated NAZCA Portal.

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