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Committee on Sustainable Energy

Introduction

Committee

The Committee on Sustainable Energy is an intergovernmental body that provides member States with a platform for international dialogue and cooperation. It is mandated to carry out a programme of work in the field of sustainable energy with a view to providing access to affordable and clean energy to all, in line with the “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative of the Secretary-General, and to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the carbon footprint of the energy sector. 
Committee Objectives       Structure of the Committee     Committee Bureau

In focus

The 2022 UNECE Sustainable Energy Week  will be held 19-23 September 2022 and will feature several hybrid events including:

- the 31st session of the Committee on Sustainable Energy

- the 18th session of the Group of Experts on Cleaner Electricity Systems

a high-level forum on regional cooperation on enhancing sustainable management and financing for the critical raw materials required for low-carbon transitions.

The Week will focus on Energy Security, Resilience and Net Zero: Tangible Actions to Deliver a Sustainable Energy Future. It will include specific discussions, recommendations and presentations of country actions that build resiliency, ensuring energy security and affordability in the Economic Commission for Europe region while meeting the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement, including net zero.

Join us in person at the Palais des Nations in Geneva or virtually and register hereSimultaneous interpretation in English, French and Russian will be provided.

 The overview of the Week is available here

 

A Commitment Trifecta

In 2021, The Committee on Sustainable Energy endorsed UNECE's call for bold, concrete actions on the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement to move the dials in the near term and to set the stage for longer-term, enduring change. “Time is running out to deliver on the climate and sustainable development agendas”, says UNECE Executive Secretary, Olga Algayerova. “Governments must commit to the transformative action we urgently need. I call on UNECE member States to give this action portfolio careful consideration.

Action in three specific areas will deliver near-term climate outcomes:

  1. Achieving superior performance in buildings,
  2. Addressing growing concentrations of methane in the atmosphere, and
  3. Ensuring sustainable resource management, in line with the circular economy.

    UNECE’s call for action, A Commitment Trifecta, encourages countries to consider three areas of action:

    • Buildings  are central to meeting the sustainability challenge. 

      • Done right, buildings, the built environment, and the communities they support address clean energy and climate, deliver health and quality of life, improve employment, affordability, social equity, resilience, and carbon intensities, improve water and land resource management, and provide both mobility and technology access.  The capability to meet the challenge exists today.
      • UNECE calls on countries to commit to high-performance buildings in their plans and targets.
    • Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with 120 times the climate forcing effect of CO2 during its shorter atmospheric lifetime.

      • Global atmospheric concentrations of methane have grown nearly 150% from pre-industrial levels and are far above the natural range of the last 650,000 years. Global emissions from human activity are projected to increase another 20% by 2030. Reducing methane emissions offers significant climate change benefits, especially in the near term, as there is a large reduction potential and cost-effective mitigation technologies are readily available. Managing methane delivers important improvements in air quality and safety.
      • UNECE calls on countries to support a declaration by the UN General Assembly of an International Decade on Methane Management and to include robust programmes for monitoring and remediating methane emissions.
    • Sustainable Resource Management is critical for achieving the green energy transition.

      • Today’s resource patterns are unsustainable, both in terms of their environmental and societal impact, and in terms of ensuring resource availability now and in the future. Developments in resource management, including the supply of critical raw materials needed for the green energy transition, will determine the capacity of countries to realize the vision of the 2030 Agenda. 
      • UNECE calls on countries to commit to a global framework for sustainable resource management.
    Over the longer term, bold actions in these areas will achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Paris goals, while:
    1. Achieving carbon neutrality by 2030,
    2. Ensuring a just transition in real transformative action, and
    3. Enabling a hydrogen economy.

    A companion document, A Push to Pivot, outlines three longer-term initiatives will support implementation of the 2030 Agenda while mitigating climate change.

    A Push to Pivot

    In 2021, The Committee on Sustainable Energy endorsed UNECE's call for bold, concrete actions on the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement to move the dials in the near term and to set the stage for longer-term, enduring change. “Time is running out to deliver on the climate and sustainable development agendas”, says UNECE Executive Secretary, Olga Algayerova. “Governments must commit to the transformative action we urgently need. I call on UNECE member States to give this action portfolio careful consideration.

    Three long-term initiatives are needed to secure the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development while mitigating climate change:

    1. Achieve carbon neutrality by 2030,

    2. Ensure a just transition to remove social obstacles to real transformative action, and

    3. Enable a hydrogen ecosystem.

      UNECE’s call for long-term action, A Push to Pivot, calls for three areas of action:

      • Countries should commit to carbon neutrality in their plans and targets 

        • National commitments made to date to address climate change are insufficient to keep global warming below a 2°C increase above pre-industrial temperatures. With the acceleration of climate change there are growing calls to take serious action to reduce the carbon intensity of the energy system. The window of opportunity to prevent climate change with a smooth transition has narrowed and more radical policy options are becoming necessary.
        • Delivering carbon neutrality will require some combination of improving energy efficiency and productivity, shifting to low or no carbon primary energy sources, controlling greenhouse (GHG) emissions, removing CO2 directly from the air, deploying smart technology for systemic decarbonisation, and managing carbon sinks
      • Countries should take steps to ensure a just transition to remove social obstacles to real transformative action  

        • Coal-based infrastructure is at the heart of industrial complexes that include mines, power stations, steel production, other affiliated industries, and urban areas. The substantial industrial and urban ecosystems that have developed around the coal facilities represent an important socioeconomic and hence political barrier to diversifying away from coal mining.

        • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) member States could support a just transition through industrial modernisation to address short-term political drivers, notably employment in coal mining regions, that impede real action on energy for sustainable development, including climate change. 

      • Countries should work to enable a hydrogen ecosystem in the future

        • Hydrogen Ecosystem Hydrogen is recognized as a possible approach to decarbonizing the energy system. Despite its potential, high costs and regulatory uncertainties are major barriers.
        • There is need for coordinated action on national, subregional, and regional levels to establish the full industrial ecosystem of policy and infrastructure to enable a hydrogen ecosystem that contributes to decarbonisation. 
      A companion document, A Commitment Trifecta, outlines three near-term initiatives will support implementation of the 2030 Agenda while mitigating climate change.

      Highlights

      Report of the 30th Session of the Committee on Sustainable Energy with a focus on concrete actions to attain energy for sustainable development is available.
      Committee on Sustainable Energy endorses Rules of Procedure for the Committee and its subsidiary bodies
      Members of the UNECE Committee on Sustainable Energy Bureau Members 2021-2022 (30th and 31st sessions) (1 December 2020)
       
       

      Recent Events

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