News

  • News from COP22: global leaders call for transition to 100% renewable energy

    Global leaders from governments, business and the UN have gathered at a high-level meeting at COP22, in support of a transition to 100% renewable energy worldwide to achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement.

    The meeting was hosted by the Moroccan Presidency of COP22 and the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), a coalition of 47 governments, to assess how a global transition to 100% renewable energy would help to limit global warming to 1.5°C degrees above pre-industrial levels.

    Supported by the UN Development Programme and Sustainable Energy for All, with The Climate Group and RE100 as contributing partners, the meeting included participants from the governments of Morocco, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, the City of Oslo, the Australian Capital Territory, Sumba Islands; as well as civil society actors, and RE100 members Mars and IKEA.

    Salaheddine Mezouar, COP22 President, opened the event saying: “Renewable energies do not only mitigate our impact on climate change but open the way to new models of sustainable development with new investments, new industries and new jobs."

    The meeting was unprecedented in the international climate process, gathering leaders to showcase significant support for the 100% renewable energy transition.

    Wael Hmaidan, Executive Director, Climate Action Network (CAN), a network of 1,100 non-governmental organizations that helped facilitate the discussions, said: “This is a very strong message we are sending out today,” “It is clear that we are all heading to a renewable energy future, the question is how fast.”

    A Climate TV interview with Jeff Seabright, Chief Sustainability Officer, Unilever, featured in a video produced for the event. 

     

    Barry Parkin, Chief Sustainability & Health and Wellbeing Officer, Mars, Incorporated called for stakeholders to scale-up cooperation and collaboration to combat climate change. He emphasized the key role of the private sector in advancing global climate action at this crucial moment in political and economic history.

    Mars was the first US business to join the RE100 campaign of global corporates committed to 100% renewable power, which is run by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP. The company has recently signed a contract to buy wind power in Mexico and earlier this year, following a similar UK announcement earlier this year.

    Steve Howard, CSO, IKEA, a founding member of RE100, was a also key speaker at the meeting and highlighted the company’s journey towards 100% renewables by 2020 as an example to other corporates.

    IKEA, which has installed almost 700,000 solar panels on its stores and distribution centers worldwide, announced plans for a solar installation at its Midwest distribution center under construction in Joliet, Illinois in the US. Installation will begin in Spring 2017, with completion expected in Autumn 2017 and it will be the largest rooftop array in the state. The project will make IKEA owner of three of the state’s largest solar rooftop installations, with its arrays in the Chicago-area at IKEA stores in Bolingbrook and Schaumburg.

    Damian Ryan, Acting CEO at The Climate Group, said: “I am optimistic about the momentum we are seeing. 30 leading companies have joined RE100 so far this year. Together, the current membership of 83 businesses is creating demand for more than 100 terawatt hours of renewable electricity – ­ more than enough to power Morocco three times over.

    He continued: "But if we’re going to see hundreds of thousands of companies setting and delivering on ambitious energy goals in the years to come, every leading corporate must become a compelling advocate of renewable energy.”

  • Blog: keeping Microsoft on course to build a greener, more responsible cloud

    As the second week of COP22 gets underway, Microsoft has announced its Cheyenne datacenter will now be powered entirely by wind energy. Here, President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith blogs on the company's progress.

    Our lives, our cities and our world are rapidly transforming with the rise of cloud technology. And as the adoption of the cloud accelerates, so does the electrical consumption of the datacenters that fuel this new era. At Microsoft, we recognize that our responsibilities as a leading cloud services provider require that we transform the way we power the cloud.

    That’s why we are announcing our largest wind energy purchase yet — 237 megawatts of wind energy — that will allow our datacenter in Cheyenne, Wyoming to be powered entirely by wind power. We’ve also structured the purchase and partnered with the local utility in novel ways to make it easier and more affordable for cities and states to move to a cleaner energy grid. And, we’re making our datacenters' backup generators available to the local grid, boosting reliability while keeping prices low for all ratepayers.

    Meeting our energy goals

    This investment in wind energy keeps us on pace to meet the energy goals we set last spring. We announced earlier this year that roughly 44% of the electricity consumed by Microsoft’s datacenters comes from wind, solar and hydropower, and we committed to raising this to 50% by 2018 and to 60% by early in the next decade.

    Today’s purchases involve two important partnerships. We have procured 178MW from the Bloom Wind Project in Kansas through Allianz Risk Transfer (ART) to help bring this new project online. We’ve also partnered with Black Hills Corp. to purchase wind power from the 59MW Happy Jack and Silver Sage wind farms in Wyoming. The combined output of the Bloom and Happy Jack/Silver Sage projects will produce enough energy on an annual basis to cover the energy used at the datacenter.

    These latest purchases bring Microsoft’s total purchase of wind energy in the U.S. to more than 500MW, which is in addition to the energy Microsoft purchases from the grid that comes from wind, solar and hydropower sources in the markets where we operate.

    New solutions help make the grid greener

    Benefits from these latest wind deals extend well beyond Microsoft’s own facilities. They are good for the utilities, the environment and local ratepayers.

    Microsoft today becomes the first buyer to participate in ART’s efficient and cost-effective finance structuring of wind generation projects. This structure offers a new model to enable faster adoption of renewables. It does so by lowering costs, reducing risks and improving certainty. By partnering with ART to deliver this new financial deal structure, we hope to help serve as a model that spurs other markets to accelerate the rate at which wind and solar energy projects come online.

    Today’s announcement also represents another form of innovation.

    Traditionally, when presented with a constraint on the system relating to reliability, load growth or the introduction of intermittent generation, a utility had one option: build new infrastructure, such as new substations, power plants or transmission lines. This ordinarily means higher costs to ratepayers. However, Microsoft envisions a future where it and other customers bring their own assets to utilities, whether new renewables, energy storage or even cloud technologies that optimize customer usage patterns, to help create a lower-cost, more efficient and cleaner energy grid.

    In this case, Black Hills Energy was faced with the potential need to build a new plant in Cheyenne. Instead, Microsoft approached Black Hills Energy with an innovative new solution to deliver reliability without additional costs for ratepayers. Microsoft and Black Hills Energy established a new tariff, available to all eligible customers, that lets the utility use our datacenter’s backup generators as a secondary resource for the entire grid. Unlike traditional backup generators that run on diesel fuel, these natural gas turbines offer a more efficient solution and, more importantly, ensure the utility avoids building a new power plant.

    This is a small step toward a future where other customer-sited resources may help make the grid more efficient, reliable and capable of integrating intermittent energy sources like wind and solar. And as we recently demonstrated in our pilot with Agder Energi in Norway, this future will be enabled by the application of cloud technologies that  enable utilities to visualize and optimize resources, providing the foundation for a low carbon energy future.

    Creating a cloud for global good

    Innovation and sustainability go hand in hand. We’re thinking differently about our datacenters and how we can build and operate them in a more sustainable way. And the innovations we’re piloting in this deal are not only good for business, but also good for local communities and the environment as well.

    We’re focused on building a cloud that serves the broader good, a cloud that is trusted, inclusive and responsible. That means thinking beyond our own operations and working with partners to accelerate the pace of clean energy and build a greener grid for all, while keeping costs low for customers and ratepayers. By thinking creatively about our energy needs and the assets at our datacenters, we’re able to deliver an innovative solution in Wyoming that does just that — and serves as a model from which we all can learn.

    As well as purchasing wind power and generating solar power, Microsoft offsets the remainder of its electricity use by purchasing renewable energy credits, meaning that it has already met its RE100 commitment to 100% renewable electricity. Find out more in our interview with Rob Bernard, Microsoft's Chief Environmental Strategist.

    For more about Microsoft's sustainability work, visit Microsoft Environment.

     

  • Winds of change in Mexico for Mars, as the company announces new investment

    Mars, Incorporated will achieve 100% renewable electricity in Mexico where it has signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for a new wind project.

    The wind farm, a new partnership between Mars, Vive Energia and Envision, will generate the equivalent electricity required to power Mars’ five sites in Mexico, and is expected to drive a greenhouse gas emissions reduction of over 25,000 tons of CO2-e when it goes online in 2017.

    The news comes on Energy Day at COP22 in Marrakech, where global leaders are convening a year on from the historic Paris Agreement. The global confectionary company couples this announcement with an call on the business community to accelerate action on climate change.

    Barry Parkin, Chief Sustainability & Health and Wellbeing Officer, said “This is an important moment in global political and economic history, and we absolutely must come together to solve the immense challenges facing the planet. Climate change, water scarcity and deforestation are serious threats to society. It is imperative that global businesses, like Mars, do their part to face down those threats.”

    Mars was amongst the first companies to join RE100, setting a target to power its entire global operations with 100% renewable electricity by 2040. The company is demonstrating progress against this goal – this wind farm will be the third major new wind project for the business in three years.

    “It’s fantastic to see Mars progressing internationally – this latest announcement is another piece in the jigsaw for achieving its goal of 100% renewable energy globally by 2040,” said Damian Ryan, Acting CEO of The Climate Group.

    “The move will also help to develop a growing renewables market in Mexico. It sends a clear signal of support to the Yucatan government that demand for renewables is rising, and that there’s an alternative to using polluting fossil fuels in this environmentally sensitive area.”

    Also today, RE100 welcomes two new members; Dalmia Cement and Helvetia. Both are committed to 100% renewable power for their global operations. 

  • Leading companies pledge to go 100% renewable and 'use better energy better'

    Leading companies Dalmia Cement and Helvetia have today commited to 100% renewable power and joined RE100 - a global, collaborative initiative of influential businesses working to massively increase demand for, and delivery of, renewable energy. RE100 is led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP.

    The news comes on Energy Day at COP22 in Marrakech, where world governments and non-state actors are gathered to increase ambition and action on climate change.

    It is a week to the day that the landmark Paris Agreement entered into force, and more businesses than ever before are committing to bold actions, to help ensure that global warming stays well below two degrees.

    Going 100% renewable

    The new additions to RE100 take the total number of members to 83, and the total demand for renewable electricity being created to over 100 TWh – more than enough to power Morocco three times over.

    Mahendra Singhi, Group CEO and Whole Time Director at Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Limited, said: “Being one of the greenest cement companies in the world, we are committed to decarbonizing our operations in a way that makes business sense. We are scaling up our ambition to make a long term transition to 100% renewable power, achieving a fourfold increase in the percentage of renewable energy in our electricity consumption by 2030.”

    Highlighting the importance of corporate action, Dr. Philipp Gmür, CEO of Helvetia Holding, said: "The consequences of climate change are diverse and directly affect the insurance industry. With our risk competence, financial strength and long-term investment perspective, we can effectively support the transition to a low carbon society. However fighting climate change always starts with ourselves. That's why our Group committed to procure 100% renewable electricity."

    The newcomers were welcomed by Damian Ryan, Acting CEO of The Climate Group: “Right now, we’re seeing greater corporate action on climate than ever before, thanks to the leadership of the world’s most influential companies."

    He added: “But to deliver net-zero emissions economies and keep global warming well below two degrees, we’ve got to go further still. Businesses have enormous influencing power over their suppliers, customers, and peers - they need to look vertically along their supply chains and encourage others to act. And governments at all levels must implement supportive policies – most urgently carbon pricing.”

    Energy Day

    The new members of RE100 were announced at Energy Day by EP100 Advisory Board member Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and CEO of SEforALL.

    Energy Day is one of twelve thematic days comprising the UNFCCC’s Global Climate Action Agenda, convened under the leadership of the high-level champions, H.E. Minister Hakima El Haité, and Ambassador Laurence Tubiana.

    RE100 members Mars and Formula E will be speaking at today’s event, and sharing their experiences of working towards 100% renewable power.

    Taking a dual approach

    Also today, (re)insurance company Swiss Re - a founding member of RE100 - has committed to doubling its energy productivity through EP100, a global effort by The Climate Group, in partnership with the Global Alliance for Energy Productivity, to help companies maximize the economic benefits of every unit of energy they consume.

    RE100 and EP100 are designed to compliment each other and provide the least-cost decarbonization pathway for business. Dalmia Cement and Swiss Re are the first companies to sign up to both – Dalmia Cement joined EP100 at Climate Week NYC in September, while Swiss Re helped to set up RE100 in 2014.

    “The climate objectives agreed in Paris require nothing less than the radical decarbonisation of the global economy,” said Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA Director-General, in Marrakech. “Transitioning rapidly to a future fuelled by renewable energy, combined with improving energy efficiency, is the single most effective way to stave off catastrophic climate change while providing citizens with a better quality of life." 

    Click here to read our exclusive interview with Dalmia Cement's Group Manufacturing Head.

  • Newsletter: What's on at COP, PPA advice & influencing EU policy

    COP22 - WHAT'S ON

    Although RE100 will not have an event at COP this year, we have been collaborating with a number of organisations such as CDP, IRENA and UN Global Compact, to ensure that corporate demand for renewables is integrated into high level discussions in Marrakech. We have been able to secure speaker slots for several RE100 members.

    Event highlights

    Wednesday 9: Business & Industry Day - a Blue Zone event from 13:30 -16:00hrs will showcase mitigation-focused initiatives that are in line with the Paris goals. Facebook and Unilever will be speaking. A dialogue session carbon pricing will follow 16:30 - 18:30hrs

    Friday 11: Energy Day - a Blue Zone event is being coordinated by SE4All and IRENA. The morning session (energy efficiency and renewables) will be 10:00-12:30hrs in the Atlantic Room. The afternoon session (energy access), will take place 13:30-16:00hrs - room TBC. IRENA is approaching RE100 members about speaking slots. 

    The Climate Group will be focusing its COP22 communications efforts around this day, when we will be announcing new members to our corporate initiatives, including RE100. We will aim to create a buzz around the hashtags #RE100, #REenergise and #COP22.

    Sunday 13: World Climate Summit - This year’s Summit is taking place at the Hotel Palm Plaza. From 11.30 - 12.30hrs there will be a panel discussion on how corporate sourcing of renewables can accelerate progress towards climate goals, between governmental representatives, corporate buyers and suppliers. Facebook is among the confirmed speakers. 

    Monday 14: EU Energy Day - This day will provide an overview of the latest progress and achievements of the EU energy policies, and their implications and relevance for other world regions. RE100 member IKEA is confirmed to speak. Further information here.


    OTHER NEWS - ALL REGIONS

    RE100 in the spotlight

    Congratulations to members Apple, Bank of America, General Motors, IKEA, Mars, Tetra Pak and Wal-Mart - recently featured by CNBC as big businesses embracing renewable energy.

    New guidance on PPAs

    The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has released a new report to help corporates take out Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). RE100 members BT, DSM, Nestlé and Unilever fed into the report, which illustrates the benefits for companies and developers alike. Damian Ryan, Acting CEO, The Climate Group called it “a helpful read for all RE100 members.” 

     


    EUROPE

    Members join forces on renewable power

    Congratulations to DSM, Google and Philips who have partnered with AkzoNobel on a long-term PPA to jointly purchase renewable power for part of their operations in The Netherlands. Read all about it here.   

    Examining strategies for going 100% renewable

    EY, RECS International and RE100 have held a unique forum for corporates to learn more about renewable strategies and network with industry peers. RE100 members Nestlé and Unilever shared success stories of getting board sign-off on their 100% renewable power targets. Technical experts Pedro Faria, Technical Director at CDP and Jared Braslawsky, Secretary-General, RECS International, who both sit on the RE100 Technical Advisory group, also spoke at the event and offered best practice advice on establishing robust energy strategies and transparent reporting.  

    Influencing EU energy policy

    RE100 has commissioned a new report from E3G which makes policy recommendations to help companies go 100% renewable in Europe. Many thanks to those companies that shared their experiences for the report. We will be sending it to EU policy makers to influence key discussions ahead of the new EU Renewable Energy Directive, for which a draft is expected in early December. All RE100 members will receive the final copy. 


    NORTH AMERICA

    Bank of America shares its story

    Bank of America, which joined RE100 during Climate Week NYC, has spoken to RE100 about its drive to achieve carbon neutrality and 100% renewable power by 2020. In an interview Alex Liftman, Global Environmental Executive, said: "by joining forces with other global sustainability leaders, we will have a much greater impact than we would if we approached it individually."


    CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA

    Webinar: using PPAs in Mexico & Chile

    In a joint webinar from RE100, Rocky Mountain Institute's Business Renewables Center and WBCSD, Rob Threlkeld. Global Manager - Renewable Energy at General Motors, and other experts shared their experiences of using Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) in Mexico and Chile. GM's first wind project was a PPA in Mexico with Enel Green Power. 


    DATES FOR YOUR DIARIES

    January 14-15, 2017: IRENA General Assembly, Abu Dhabi

    There will be a session dedicated to the private sector at the IRENA General Assembly, and speaker slots will be open to RE100 members. Gold Members will be given priority. More information to follow.

    January 16-19, 2017: World Future Energy Summit, Abu Dhabi/launch of RE100 Annual Report

    We are working closely with CDP on the development of our RE100 Annual Report for 2017, in which we will report on the progress of the RE100 campaign and its members in working to 100% renewable power globally. This year we will be taking a closer look at where members are creating demand for renewable power, and the strategies they are using to get there. 

  • Newsletter: Apple, General Motors & more make waves at Climate Week NYC

    ALL REGIONS

    New joiners at Climate Week NYC

    Apple, Bank of America and General Motors are among 12 world-leading companies that joined RE100 around Climate Week NYC, taking the total number of members to 81, and the overall renewable electricity demand being created to over 100TWh - a significant milestone.

    Lisa Jackson, Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives at Apple and Andrew Plepler, Global Environmental, Social and Governance Executive at Bank of America announced their companies’ RE100 commitments on stage at the Opening Ceremony, organised by The Climate Group.

    Speaking on Apple’s commitment to work with its manufacturing partners to expand 100% renewable power into its supply chain, Jackson said: “We have to be the ripple in the pond. We can’t just be 100% renewable energy - we have to bring others with us.

    In an exclusive interview for Climate TV, Plepler said that when it comes to addressing climate change, “the success of our business strategy depends on it”.

    Other highlights included an interview with The Climate Group’s acting CEO Damian Ryan on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, and stories on CNBC.com and Mashable.  We also generated 24.5 million impressions of #RE100 on Twitter - creating by far the biggest online moment for RE100 since COP21.

     

    Scaling the Clean Economy: Using Better Energy, Better

    David Tulauskas, Director of Sustainability at General Motors championed the business case for renewable power at a special event hosted by global law firm Baker & McKenzie. Tulauskas said: “This is what being part of RE100 is about. By working together we're stronger, more influential and effective”.

    A panel discussion including Alex Liftman, Global Environment Executive at Bank of America examined how new, innovative and potentially disruptive technologies, business models, financing and policy can help to accelerate the clean energy transition. 

    Demonstrating progress  

    During Climate Week NYC, Swiss Re and Johnson & Johnson both announced new investments in renewable energy, taking them closer to being 100% powered by renewable electricity.

    Already 85% renewable, re/insurance company Swiss Re announced plans to build its own solar plant at its U.S. headquarters in Armonk, New York. Lasse Wallquist, Senior Environmental Management Specialist at Swiss Re, said itbenefits the bottom line, increases resilience, and underlines our sustainability commitment.

    Global healthcare company Johnson & Johnson meanwhile announced a new contract to source 100MW of wind energy from E.ON’s new wind farm in Texas.

           

    BMW Group targets 100% renewable electricity   

    BMW Group has been interviewed by Bloomberg New Energy Finance as part of the inaugural issue of its monthly analysis of corporate renewable energy procurement. Jury Witschnig, Head of Sustainability Strategy, Product and Production at BMW Group, said: “Renewable technology will improve. A few years ago, this technology didn’t make sense as an option, but it is now getting cheaper and a more attractive investment.”


    INDIA

    More than 30 people attended a RE100 webinar on Tuesday September 27 which gave an overview of India’s REC market and policy, and looked at the future role of voluntary standards in making credible claims about renewable electricity use there. The speakers were Shailesh Telang, Senior Project Officer at CDP India, and Jared Braslawsky, Secretary-General of RECS International.


    DATES FOR YOUR DIARIES

    Monday 10 - Tuesday 11 October: BNEF EMEA Future of Energy Summit, London - Through executive interviews and expert panels, Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Future of Energy Summit aims to facilitate constructive debate, create a forum to exchange ideas among industry peers, and provide the latest insights to drive change in the energy industry. This year's speakers include Google and The Climate Group. This event is invitation-only.

    Sunday 16 - Tuesday 18 October: ‘Renewable Energy Markets 2016’, San Francisco, U.S. - Organized by the Center for Resource Solutions and co-sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this event will bring together generators, marketers, utilities, purchasers and policymakers, and help to set the renewables agenda for years to come. Confirmed speakers include RE100’s Roberto Zanchi, Technical Manager - Renewable Energy at CDP, as well as member companies Google, General Motors, and Bloomberg L.P.. Learn more here.

    Thursday October 27: Joint RE100-BRC webinar - corporate PPAs in Mexico and Chile, 16:00 - 17:00hrs BST - All members of RE100 are invited to take part in this webinar jointly hosted by RE100 and The Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Center, together with WBCSD. Expert industry practitioners (tbc) will comment on the opportunities for renewable energy procurement in two increasingly-attractive international markets: Mexico and Chile.

    November 7-18: UNFCCC COP22, Marrakesh, Morocco: There will be a number of speaking opportunities for senior executives of RE100 members, including: Wednesday 9 (Business & industry session of Global Action Agenda day), Friday 11 (energy day), Sunday 13 (CEM7 event), Tuesday 15 (100% RE multi stakeholder event) and Friday 18 (possible high level action event). 

    REVISED DATE: Friday December 9, ‘Powering a cleaner future: Unlocking business demand for renewables in Europe’, Brussels, Belgium - In the context of the development of the new EU Renewable Energy Directive, RE100 and Google are co-hosting a corporate leadership event to highlight the high level of corporate demand for renewable power across Europe. Please contact Sandra Roling with any questions - SRoling@theclimategroup.org.

  • Blog: Johnson & Johnson on caring for the planet like our health depends on it

    One year on since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, and a year since Johnson & Johnson joined RE100 at Climate Week NYC 2015, Paulette Frank, Vice President, Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability at Johnson & Johnson, explains why human health is still the biggest driver for the company's leadership on addressing climate change. 

    As I drove along an industrial stretch of Highway 95, my five-year-old son who was sitting in the backseat asked if the smoke coming out of the smokestacks he saw – “those tall things,” as he called them – made God cough. The truth was the smoke was steam, but I still marveled at the connection my son had just made between the health of people and the health of the planet. This made me wonder, if more people saw this connection, would we, as a society, do more to care for the planet, including our climate? Would more people take action to lower their own carbon footprint? Would there be more demand for things like renewable energy?

    At Johnson & Johnson, we believe the health of people and the health of the planet are inextricably linked and that a changing climate resulting in extreme weather, droughts, floods, air pollution and vector-borne diseases will ultimately impact human health and wellbeing. And, we’re not the only ones. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Center for Disease Control and the US Environmental Protection Agency all have websites dedicated to the human health effects of climate change. The World Health Organization even went so far as to declare climate change as one of the greatest threats to global health in the 21st century.

    As the world’s most broadly based healthcare company, this challenge inspires us to advocate and create demand for a low-carbon economy. We do this not only through our efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of our own facilities, but also by influencing our extended supply chain and collaborating with like-minded organizations.  

    Johnson & Johnson has had a formal energy management program for over 30 years. For more than a decade, we’ve been building clean and renewable energy systems on our properties – from cogeneration to solar, wind and geothermal – establishing our energy program from the ground up. We’ve significantly invested in over 70 renewable energy projects at our facilities, which today, equate to 7% of our global electricity usage.

    Realizing we needed to pick up the pace to meet our goal of powering our facilities with 20 percent renewable energy by 2020, we shifted gears and accelerated our progress by complementing our “build” strategy with a “buy” strategy. This approach resulted in the latest milestone in our clean energy journey of executing a long-term power purchase agreement with E.ON Climate and Renewables from their new 200MW wind farm in Texas. Johnson & Johnson has contracted usage of 100MW, which will generate electricity equivalent to 50% of our consumption in the U.S..

    This will equate to an approximate carbon dioxide savings of more than 3.7 million metric tons over the next 12 years, helping to meet our 2020 goal four years earlier than anticipated. In the spirit of continuing to pick up the pace, we have decided to increase our goal another 15% to producing or procuring 35% of our global electricity needs from renewable sources by the end of 2020.

    Beyond our four walls, there’s also work to be done. We know that our actions are one ripple in a large ocean. We need to work together with our suppliers and other organizations to turn that ripple into a tsunami of demand for renewable energy. This is why we’ve participated in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and the CDP Supply Chain Program since its launch. This is why we partnered with the World Wildlife Fund, the World Resources Institute and an alliance that has grown to 51 corporations to launch the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers Principles.

    And, it is why we joined RE100 – a global campaign that brings together the world’s most influential companies – and made public our aspirations to achieve 100% renewable power and a science-based target of 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. Joining this collaborative is one of the most impactful steps corporations can take to amplify their voice and the demand signal for renewable energy – no matter the size of the corporation.

    Climate change is a big problem that requires big solutions. No one person, no one company, no one government can do it alone. Instead, we must continue to create a global movement of people, companies and organizations all working together to care for our climate like our health depends on it. Because it does. Even a five-year-old knows that.  

    First published in USA Today Special Edition, September 19, 2016

  • Blog: Why it’s time to acknowledge rising consumer demand for renewable energy

    Jared Braslawsky is Deputy Secretary-General of RECS International, which implements and standardizes electricity tracking systems around the globe. He is also a member of the RE100 Technical Advisory Group, which provides best practice guidance for RE100 members working towards 100% renewable electricity goals. Here, he calls for EU legislation that requires national governments to report national renewable energy consumption figures, in addition to renewable energy production.

    Across Europe, consumers are choosing renewable electricity and are doing so on a large scale. It’s time to recognise this demand for renewable energy by reporting on national consumption, and not only production, of renewables. This dual reporting of renewable electricity can support consumer choice, showing the impact of collective action – and is in line with EU ambitions to empower consumers.

    Citizens are at the core of the EU's most ambitious energy strategy to date, the Energy Union, according to the European Commission. Today, there is legislation in place that requires national governments to report national figures of renewable energy production; mandatory reporting of national consumption figures would ensure consumers are also part of the national statistics.

    This is the first step towards placing the energy consumer in the driver’s seat. If we expect the consumer to play a larger role in the energy transition we must also acknowledge their decision to purchase renewable electricity, and not only measure the production of renewables as we do now.

    Historically, electricity producers have been centralised, state-owned, top-down entities. The consumer had no choice of supplier, or of the source of their household electricity supply. The legacy of this traditional mode of energy production means that the energy sector is the only sector where we are measuring the production – and not the consumption – of a commodity. Take electric vehicles for example: to measure real progress on the ground, we count how many electric vehicles are on the road in Norway, not how many are being produced in Germany.

    Across Europe, consumers are actively choosing renewable electricity and are doing so on a large scale. Last year European consumers made the conscious effort to purchase renewables for more than 550-TWh of electricity, equivalent to roughly 20% of all electricity consumption in Europe. If we include electricity that is not eligible for private consumption – such as German production that receives the feed-in tariff and is consumed equally by all German electricity end-users – nearly 770-TWh of citizen-led renewables was consumed in Europe.

    Many businesses are already voluntarily reporting their CO2 emissions from electricity usage as part of calculating their annual carbon footprint. One reporting agency alone, CDP, had more than 5,500 companies voluntarily reporting their emissions in 2015 – accounting for nearly 17% of global emissions. Linked initiative RE100 supports companies in achieving a public goal to meet 100% of their electricity with renewable sources of energy, and includes global players such as Google, IKEA, Philips, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble.

    The demand for renewable energy from these companies and millions of households around Europe is not currently recognised in any European statistics. Shouldn’t we recognise this positive choice for renewable energy in national reporting?

    How it works

    CDP companies report CO2 emissions from electricity usage based upon a national/regional production mix (location-based accounting) and a company-specific consumption mix (market-based accounting), a method developed by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. This voluntary dual reporting ensures companies are responsible – for both where they consume electricity, but also, what market choices they make for their company’s electricity consumption. Dual reporting would be similar for national governments: report the national production of renewables and report the national consumption of renewables.

    Already member states measure national renewables production through the Guarantee of Origin (GO) instrument defined in the Renewable Energy Directive (Article 15). GOs are electronic certificates issued to renewable energy producers for every 1 MWh of energy produced. The electronic document is used to guarantee to the consumer that the energy delivered is produced from renewable sources. Once the energy is sold, the GO is then cancelled to avoid double counting. Collaboration over the last fifteen years between national regulators, market players, stakeholders and consumers has resulted in a robust and reliable GO system.

    The European market for renewable energy, documented with GOs, increased by 26.5% in 2014 compared to 2013. In 2014, the demand surpassed 300 TWh for certificates adherent to the European Energy Certificate System (EECS) standard, held by the Association of Issuing Bodies (AIB). This is nearly one tenth of all electricity demand in Europe (ca. 3,300 TWh) and one third of all electricity from renewable sources in Europe (ca. 900 TWh).

    In 2015, for the first time, an increase in cancellations of GOs, (and therefore of renewable energy demand) together with the decrease in issuing volumes, created a shortage of supply. This scarcity of supply marks a turning point in the development of Guarantees of Origin, setting the market in a good state for 2016 and the years to come.

    With limited exceptions, Guarantees of Origin are issued by members of the Association of Issuing Bodies (AIB) – mostly transmission system operators, electricity regulators and energy market operators. Measuring consumption of renewables based on GOs is therefore relatively simple to implement, and will highlight the increasing demand from consumers and businesses for renewable energy.

    What now?

    The European Commission is currently preparing proposals for a new renewable energy directive (REDII) for the period 2020-2030, with a draft anticipated before the end of 2016. It’s not too late to include a dual reporting obligation in the new directive to support the citizens and businesses that are driving the European energy transition – and show that collective action can make big changes.

    First published on Euractiv, September 7, 2016.

  • Using better energy, better: Climate Week NYC shows renewables and energy productivity go hand-in-hand

    General Motors and Bank of America, new members of RE100, shared their visions of a net-zero emissions economy at a special event run by The Climate Group during Climate Week NYC.

    The sell-out event, hosted by Baker & McKenzie, drew a diverse audience of corporates, policymakers, NGOs and the media.

    It showcased the companies’ new RE100 commitments to 100% renewable power, and examined how new, innovative and potentially disruptive technologies, business models, financing and policy can help to accelerate the clean energy transition.

    RE100 is led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP. The Climate Group also showed how its new energy productivity campaign, EP100, is designed to work hand-in-hand with RE100, to help companies maximize the economic benefits of the energy they consume – and ensure what they do use for power, is renewable.

    According to various studies, adopting both approaches provides the least cost decarbonization pathway for businesses.

    Changing the narrative

    In her keynote speech, Rachel Kyte, CEO and Special Representative for the UN Secretary General for Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All), said corporate uptake of renewable energy has changed the narrative on climate change by demonstrating mainstream investment opportunities.

    But she added that a real transition to fair and sustainable energy for all would not happen if only 1% of corporates are leading the way: "If you're not a member of RE100, I question why not.”

    David Tulauskas, Director of Sustainability at General Motors said there were many business benefits in transitioning to 100% renewable power, including significant cost savings. He gave the example of a power purchasing agreement for renewable power in Texas, which is expected to save U.S.$2.8 million. He was also clear to point out that the pitch to the board was not about a 100% renewable strategy – it was about a solid business plan to save money.

    He then said that being part of RE100 allowed GM to work as part of a greater team, learning from other businesses that have set the same goals, and working together to scale efforts and impact.

    “That's what being part of RE100 is about”, he said, “by working together we're stronger, more influential and effective”.

    Technological, financing and policy solutions

    Following a discussion with John Gaylen, North America President of Danfoss, which this week joined EP100 with a goal to double its energy productivity, there was a wider discussion on how best to scale efforts and accelerate the transition to cleaner and smarter energy.

    Alex Liftman, Global Environment Executive at Bank of America, joined fellow panelists Anirban Ghosh, VP of Sustainability at Mahindra & Mahindra; Melanie Nakagawa, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Transformation, US Department of State; and Greg Wetstone, President, American Council on Renewable Energy.

    The conversation began by recognizing the barriers to scaling renewables – in many cases due to lack of supportive policy and in some cases, conflicting policies.

    However, the good news far outweighed the constraints. There was recognition that the falling costs of renewables are making the technology impossible to ignore. And corporate commitments to renewables are providing a clear signal to the market that there are credible offtakers and this is helping to build confidence among investors.

    Alex Liftman referenced the growing number of financial products that Bank of America is developing to support growth of new renewable energy projects, and stressed that collaboration across government, businesses and investors was critical to get to the scale needed.

    The diplomatic role of the US Government was also praised in helping to push forward renewables in India and Mexico.

    Nigel Topping, CEO of We Mean Business, summarized the positive mood of the event by highlighting the incredible position we are now in because we can clearly demonstrate the business case for 100% renewable power.

    He acknowledged that there is still a lot more to be done – particularly in the energy intensive sectors - but as he pointed out, "all of our partners are committed to growing business leadership's voice so we can really accelerate climate action".

    Amy Davidsen, North America Executive Director, The Climate Group, reflected on Climate Week NYC 2016: “One of the key takeaways from this year’s Climate Week NYC is the clear pivot from talk to action in the way major businesses are approaching their energy use. It is hugely inspiring to see this leadership from US and global businesses continue, with further commitments to use 100% renewable energy across their operations, and others setting clear goals in doubling their energy productivity.”

    For more information on General Motors’ drive for 100% renewable power, read our exclusive interview with David Tulauskas, here.

  • Blog: Swiss Re steps up investment in own solar power supply

    As a founding partner of RE100, Swiss Re is committed to becoming 100% powered by renewable electricity by 2020 - a lot of it coming from the company’s own energy production. Lasse Wallquist, Senior Environmental Management Specialist at Swiss Re, explains why investing in solar PV makes environmental and economic sense.

    As global re/insurance company Swiss Re must consider climate change risks in its business; the need for risk-transfer solutions that help companies mitigate and adapt to climate change is growing.

    For example, we can help businesses around the world to better protect themselves from and prepare for extreme weather events like hurricanes, heat waves and ice storms, which increase in frequency and severity. At the same time, Swiss Re is committed to raising awareness and advocating a worldwide policy framework for fighting climate change. And, staying true to the cause, in our own offices around the world Swiss Re is vigorously tackling its own carbon footprint.

    In 2003, we launched our Greenhouse Neutral Program and started to operate carbon neutrally. This commitment included building our operations as energy efficiently as possible, sourcing as much green power as possible and buying carbon offsets for the remaining unavoidable CO2 emissions. Co-founding the RE100 initiative in 2014 was a logical next step in our strategy.

    Energy consumption that sets effective incentives

    We consider the purchase of carbon credits as a last resort to ensure carbon neutrality. In our view, emissions should be avoided directly at the source related to our energy consumption whenever possible.

    Similarly, we strive for a direct impact of our power purchasing on the development of new renewable power production capacities. Therefore, we prefer the physical consumption of "green" electricity or long term contracts with producers over certificates bought retrospectively, which do not offer similar effective incentives.  

    In recent times we have seen that solar PV is becoming increasingly economically viable in some of our locations.  

    The Armonk Solar Project

    We have been installing smaller solar plants with capacities of 50-100kW on the rooftops of some of our offices in Switzerland, Italy and the UK in recent years.

    Now we are entering a whole different ball game.

    This year we are investing approx. US$7 million into a 2MW solar power plant to be developed at Swiss Re Americas headquarter in Armonk, NY. Ten acres of panels, ground-mounted on our property, will generate more than 60% of the campus' power requirements. Construction begins in October 2016.

    Making environmental and economic sense

    One may ask whether it make sense for a financial service company to become a power producer and also whether this is of relevance. I could argue it does, and here are the main three reasons.

    1. It benefits the bottom line

    The Armonk solar project has an attractive payback of less than seven years. Federal and state incentives contribute to the economic benefit for Swiss Re. With a life expectancy exceeding 25 years, the plant will allow Swiss Re to save millions of dollars in the coming decades.

    This is of relevance, because many companies - due to the nature of their business - don't yet worry about the cost of their electricity bills. They are however missing out on the new opportunities to significantly reduce their own energy consumption costs and do something good for the environment.

    2. It will increase resilience of energy infrastructure

    Although off-grid solutions with battery storage are not yet fully economically feasible today, they will most likely be in a few years. It will be a simple task to retrofit the Armonk solar plant with such a system. The resilience of the electricity grid is increased through active demand management. Our own resilience is improved by providing the Armonk campus with additional power in the event of an outage and by making us less dependent on fluctuating power prices.

    3. It underlines Swiss Re's sustainability commitment

    In the context of Swiss Re's extensive climate engagement, the Armonk Solar Project is an important milestone example of how we "walk the talk". It helps us to illustrate our concrete efforts for our customers, society and our employees. Already in the ideation phase of the project, enthusiasm from stakeholders and foremost from many employees was remarkable.

    All of Swiss Re's solar projects offer great opportunities to engage employees on the topic of renewable energy. Our group-wide "COyou2 reduce and gain" program makes solar energy personally relevant. It encourages our colleagues to install their own solar panels on the rooftops of their homes. The COyou2 program subsidizes residential photovoltaic installations and other low carbon investments made by employees with up to US$4,000 or the equivalent in a local currency.

    And what comes next? The direction is towards achieving 100% fossil free operations.