Recommendations from the World's Leading Utilities on Climate Policies

Published on Thursday, 29 October 2015

The countdown to the World Climate Summit (COP21) has begun. In view of the UN conference – to be held in Paris from November 30th to December 11th –  the 11 leading international power companies (including Enel) participating in the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (Gsep) published an open letter. The letter is the result of a two-year consultation process, which led to the report Powering Innovation for a Sustainable future, prepared in collaboration with participating companies and a panel of experts who analysed the evolution of the energy sector in the US, China, Japan, Brazil and India.

Enel CEO Francesco Starace has often underlined the importance of a “sustainable future”. In late September, during his speech at the United Nations Private Sector Forum 2015, he explained that the development of new technologies goes hand in hand with placing sustainability at the heart of corporate culture: "Our role as a utility is to be flexible and favour this change, integrating innovation into our production processes."

In view of the Paris conference, the 11 Gsep companies (Enel, American Electric Power, Edf, Eletrobras, EuroSibEnergo, RusHydro, Hydro- Québec, Iberdrola, Kansai Electric, RWE, and State Grid Corporation of China) are urging policy makers attending the Cop 21 to adopt four core principles:

  • secure, stable, clear and consistent long-term policies that address critically important energy, legal/regulatory economic, financial and environmental matters
  • a systemic approach which takes into account the interrelations and synergies between the various elements of the electricity value chain, enabling power companies to plan new technological systems
  • the promotion of public-private partnerships that facilitate decision making among electricity providers, Government representatives and stakeholders
  • commitment to innovative research, development and demonstrations of advanced economically viable and sustainable technologies that are able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the efficient generation, distribution and end-use of electricity

 

The 11 utilities embrace the idea that electricity plays a central role in the fight against climate change. The position paper – which stresses the need for an increased awareness among industries on the risks and opportunities of climate change – not only highlights the urgency to take action, but also offers a detailed account on the need for innovative generation, transport and distribution technologies, as well as an efficient use of electricity.

Concerning  decarbonisation for example, a wide range of "low carbon" technologies are already available, capable of activating a low carbon electricity approach, contributing not only in terms of progress, but also offering a key solution to reducing "greenhouse" emissions in sectors outside the energy industry. The report not only highlights the importance of distributed generation (which is considered to be the fastest and most efficient way to provide electricity in villages and remote areas of the world), but also pays particular attention to growing water scarcity: a phenomena that is likely to further increase with the growth of the world’s population and the resulting demand for food, which in turn will require a greater amount of water and energy.