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South African minister of mineral resources and energy Gwede Mantashe joined a global coalition of ministers, CEOs, investors and other key leaders in the energy sector for the first ever International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Clean Energy Transition Summit where the focus was on reviving the economy that will be carbon-free.

Chaired by IEA executive director Dr Fatih Birol, the virtual summit gathered ministers representing 80% of global energy consumption and carbon emissions to discuss and debate the steps needed to achieve a definite peak in global carbon emissions and set the world on course for a sustainable and resilient recovery strategy post COVID-19.

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Participating ministers included those from the world’s largest energy users such as China, the United States and India and speakers ranged from the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres to heads of regional development banks, past and present COP presidents and leaders from civil society.

All speakers emphasised that the Summit came at a pivotal moment when the world faces urgent and shared challenges to rebuild economies, create jobs and accelerate clean energy transitions.

The Summit was livestreamed across IEA digital channels to a global audience that reached more than 500,000 viewers.

Participants drew on the findings of the April Global Energy Review which provided the first comprehensive COVID-19 impact assessment across all fuels and emission trends, finding a historic drop in both global energy demand and carbon emissions.

The World Energy Investment report in May warned of a 20% plunge in global energy investment for 2020, raising worrying implications for clean energy transitions and security. The IEA’s Market Reports across various fuels also provide ongoing impact assessments.

Applauded by summit participants, the IEA’s Sustainable Recovery Plan (developed in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund) sets out 30 actionable, ambitious policy recommendations and target investments.

Implementation of this plan would require global investment of $1 trillion, but if pursued it could boost global economic growth by 1.1% a year, save or create 9 million jobs annual and avoid a rebound in emissions and put them into structural decline.

According to this Sustainable Recovery Plan, 35% of new jobs could be created through energy efficiency measures and another 25% in power systems, particularly in wind, solar and modernising and strengthening electricity grids. 

Participants agreed to reconvene mid-2021 for a second IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit to ensure the world takes advantage of this historic responsibility.

Archived editions of the summit sessions can be accessed here.