SolarPower Europe participated in COP28 in Dubai from the 4-9 December, bringing high hopes for tripling up renewables. The conversations around Expo City, Dubai, echoed a strong message: it’s time to phase out fossil fuels and elevate the potential of renewables for a just energy transition. For this reason, it was significant that the COP28 climate summit approved an unprecedented deal to transition away from fossil fuels, and triple renewable energy capacity by 2030.
SolarPower Europe’s CEO, Walburga Hemetsberger, took the stage during EU Energy Days, discussing the urgent global transition to clean energy sources and democratisation of energy through renewables, calling for an international commitment to phase out fossil fuels. She said; “With renewables like solar, we are democratising energy and facilitating a just transition for diverse groups. We must prioritise phasing out fossil fuels; we cannot lose speed.”
SolarPower Europe also engaged in panels and discussions on grid infrastructure for the energy transition, emphasising the necessity for flexibility and policy frameworks to support a global tripling renewables target.
Máté Heisz, Director of Global Affairs at SolarPower Europe, participated in several panel discussions, emphasising community engagement as a key condition for large-scale solar projects. He stressed; “Community engagement is crucial for the energy transition. We need to maintain trust between developers and the local community, with accessibility and inclusiveness being the key pillars.”
Kicking off week 2 on the 8 December, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Global Renewables Alliance, and the Energy Transition Education Network organised a session on agenda setting on Education and Skill Building for the Energy Transition. Global Solar Council (GSC) CEO Sonia Dunlop highlighted; “It’s not just the technical skills that we need to develop a solar project, we need lawyers, community members, business developers, accountants and more. We need to be educating youth and people from other sectors on the opportunities in hashtag solar industry - and we need to be doing this rapidly.” Complementing Sonia’s remarks, Cristina Garcia Dominguez, Business Development Manager at Iberdrola, highlighted how; “special efforts are required to employ more women and vulnerable youth in renewables...We need an inclusive approach to the just transition."
In the afternoon of the 8 December, the Global Solar Council organised a session on sustainable supply chains. During the session, Sonia Dunlop emphasised that; “It is innovations in supply chains that have brought us to where we are today. Building a free, fair and resilient supply chain, will be key for us to triple our renewable energy capacity.”
The Australian Pavilion also hosted a renewable industry drinks reception with the Sustainable Energy Council (SEC), ABSOLAR - the Brazilian Association of Photovoltaic Solar Energy, and the Global Solar Council. Here, the Australian Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen affirmed that; “It’s been a productive COP so far with over 130 countries signing a pledge to triple our renewable energy capacity. It’s important about the message it sends to the world on how to invest, and where to invest so we can double down and triple up on the energy transition.”
On Nature, Land Use and Oceans day on 9 December, the Global Solar Council organised a high-level panel on achieving 100% renewable energy, and how small island states can lead the way forward in just energy transition. Maltese Minister for the Environment, Energy and Enterprise, Miriam Dali, opened the session stating; “We are accelerating our investment in Malta's electricity structure, to create the right environment for renewables, which can reduce our carbon footprint." Licypriya Kangujam, a 12-year-old climate activist and Special Envoy of Timor Leste, provided an impassioned and inspiring conclusion to the event, describing how there is “one key avenue for Small Island Developing States to pursue 100% renewables is solar. These islands can capitalise on solar power with solar rooftops, #solar farms & innovative solutions like floating solar."
It was no doubt a historic COP28. Now, we need to build on this momentum, and push for the full fossil fuel phaseout.