The Bloomberg New Energy Finance Roundtable Day on Climate Finance and Energy Access, held in partnership with UN-Energy, took place in New York on 7 April 2011. It brought together over 150 Thought Leaders and Delegates from 30 countries, representing a full range of stakeholders working on climate and clean energy solutions globally: policymakers, negotiators, regulators, investors and executives from the energy and equipment supply industries.
The Roundtable Day was initially convened to tackle two specific challenges: the design of a public-private partnership system for climate-related finance that could reach the $100bn per annum scale, identified in the Copenhagen Accord; and to identify how such a system could be designed to route funding to distributed as well as centralised energy solutions – towards universal energy access. The focus of the day was on stakeholder participation as essential for ensuring the stability and delivery of any system. We put forward some thoughts on methods of engagement.
Other related efforts also emerged. As an example, The UN has designated 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, and the Roundtable Day offered an opportunity for UN-Energy to invite support for that initiative.
The atmosphere was remarkably optimistic – the location in Central Park Boathouse in Spring certainly helped – and it was also extremely practical, as one delegate put it, “it was good to spend some time in the ‘world of action’, rather than the ‘world of negotiation’.
The body of this document – known as The Boathouse Sessions results book – describes the progress of the day,issues discussed and detailed output from the two interactive exercises. Without reiterating the mass of knowledge that was shared, here are a few top-level conclusions:
• The stakeholder set is complex: anyone going into the day expecting to hear of one or two stakeholder groupsholding up world progress would have been sorely disappointed. The list of critical stakeholders that have not yet been sufficiently engaged include: unions, landowners, communities, bureaux of indigenous affairs, ministries of education, trade negotiators and the media – as well as the expected groups of pension funds, private equity investors and asset managers.
• Need to get the investment climate right: there was surprising agreement that climate and clean energy funding cannot be expected to flow to a country that does not create a good environment for foreign direct investment. Solutions are not just about identifying pools of money, but about the core tenets of a healthy investment environment or good ‘business ecology’ – legal and judicial structures, good local partners, community support, transparency, good governance and positive economics.
• Need for information: time and again the point was made that decision-makers did not have access to the information they need, and hence are favouring incumbent technologies over sustainable energy solutions. There is a need for information sharing on the rapidly dropping cost of renewable energy, benefits from energy efficiency initiatives and even the decision-making progresses of other stakeholders.
• Need for capacity building: many of the speakers highlighted this point, including several energy ministers. Improved skills and capabilities are required in designing energy policy, devising programmes and initiatives, and training energy industry participants from the big utilities all the way down to the local level. The impression was that many countries know they can make rapid progress and are thirsty for help.
• Need for leadership: support for the climate and clean energy agenda is not sufficiently widespread in the target markets: opinion-formers must be engaged. This includes the media and leaders at both the national (for large centralised projects) and local (for distributed projects) levels. At the local level consumers are not driving demand. There is a need to do much more to identify and promote local champions.
• All barriers can be overcome: the energy level in the room was palpable, with one reason being the feeling that everyone necessary to solve the problem was in the room. Many delegates had stories of projects and initiatives that had failed and so it was empowering for them to find that every group was equally keen to drive progress. The climate community across the world was interested in the Roundtable Day: as an example, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), expressed her support for the event and the resulting insights.
As part of the follow-up we will ensure that this document is widely circulated, and will be organising further small, focused sessions to discuss the findings among interested parties. We will also be canvassing opinion on how to build on the momentum we have established with this forum – there was talk of running a similar day in preparation for next year’s Clean Energy Ministerial in London, and that is certainly something we should consider doing.
One of our key ‘soft’ goals of the Roundtable Day was to improve communication between public and private sector stakeholders. Too often, they may share the same goals but they speak in such different languages and operate in such different ways, making cooperation almost impossible. If this special day in New York helped to break down barriers between groups of people, each working separately on these issues of central importance to global development, then the exercise was more than worthwhile.
We will be extremely proud if you the participants agree that the Roundtable Day helped nudge forward one of the key agendas of our times: Sustainable Energy for All!
CEO, Bloomberg New Energy Finance
To access full coverage on the findings please download the report.