Credit: International Energy Agency (IEA)

The International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Government of Denmark hosted a high-level roundtable meeting with government ministers and business leaders from around the world to discuss the importance of making clean energy a central part of the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

The meeting that took place on Friday 24 April, was co-chaired by Dan Jørgensen, Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities of Denmark, and Dr Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director.

According to statement by the IEA, the virtual meeting focused in particular on the potential of energy efficiency and renewables – two of the key pillars of clean energy transitions – to create jobs, enhance economic competitiveness and improve the resilience of energy systems.

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Leading participants included Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations; Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission; Simonetta Sommaruga, President of Switzerland; Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources of Canada; Elisabeth Borne, Minister for an Ecological and Inclusive Transition of France; and R.K. Singh, Minister of Power and New & Renewable Energy of India. A full list of the main participants is provided at the end of this article.

“Putting clean energy at the heart of stimulus plans is an excellent strategy for revitalising economies while building a more secure and sustainable energy future,” said Dr Birol. “I am delighted that such a high-profile and diverse group of ministers and leaders – in large part from countries supporting the IEA’s Clean Energy Transitions Programme – joined us today for this vital conversation during such challenging times. I warmly thank everyone for their contributions, and Minister Jorgensen for his leadership.”

At the meeting, ministers from around the world highlighted the extraordinary challenges governments are confronting as a result the immediate public health and economic crises – and their desire to make well-informed decisions in their plans to rekindle economic growth as their countries emerge from confinement.

“In the face of human tragedy and the plethora of consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have also been handed an opportunity to rebuild society in a manner that makes it more resilient to future crises,” said Jørgensen. “The choices we take now to kick-start our economies will also determine our ability to mitigate the impacts of climate change. The impressive turnout at today’s roundtable is a clear indication that this approach resonates in many capitals, and I would like to thank all participants, and of course my great co-host Fatih, for their invaluable contributions.”

The aim of the roundtable session was to catalyse and elevate the conversation among governments on the best ways to achieve the mutual benefits that clean energy transitions and economic recoveries can bring to one another.

“Today’s discussion provided ample food for thought. Renewable energy and energy efficiency are both cornerstones in our fight against climate change, and at the same time both sectors have massive job potential,” Jørgensen said. “As we look to stimulate the economy, it only makes sense to design our interventions in ways that take advantage of these synergies. Not only will that allow us to create even more green jobs, but it will also support and underpin our efforts to keep global temperature rise to manageable levels.”

According to the IEA, the meeting is expected to be the first in an ongoing series of high-level discussions about accelerating the development and deployment of clean energy technologies in order to spur renewed economic activity and put the world on track to meet international climate goals and other sustainability objectives.

“It was very encouraging to hear governments reaffirm their commitments to support renewables, energy efficiency and other clean energy technologies despite the current crisis,” said Dr Birol.

Adding that: “As the leading global energy authority covering all fuels and all technologies, the IEA will continue to support governments with the highest quality data, analysis and advice to inform the enormously consequential decisions they are making as they design their stimulus packages. It is crucial to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past: although emissions fell as a result of the 2008 global financial crisis, they soon rebounded sharply. We must learn from that experience.”

Key IEA reports and events coming soon:

  • In June, the IEA will release a new World Energy Outlook special report that will provide hard numbers on the economic and job-creation potential of building a more resilient and cleaner energy sector.
  • The Global Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency will soon publish its recommendations, providing actionable recommendations to governments around the world on how they can act quickly to accelerate energy efficiency progress.
  • In early July, the IEA will release the first instalment of our revamped Energy Technology Perspectives report, the world’s guidebook on clean energy technologies. The July release will have concrete advice on how governments can accelerate technology innovation even in this time of crisis.
  • On 9 July, the IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit take place. This major global event will bring together a very large group of ministers and key energy decision-makers in an effort to identify ways to step up real-world action.

The roundtable participants included:

  • Dan Jørgensen, Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities, Denmark (co-host)
  • Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency (co-host)
  • Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations
  • Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President, European Commission
  • Simonetta Sommaruga, President of Switzerland
  • Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources, Canada
  • Elisabeth Borne, Minister for an Ecological and Inclusive Transition, France
  • R. K. Singh, Minister of Power and New & Renewable Energy, India
  • Arifin Tasrif, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Indonesia
  • Megan Woods, Minister of Energy and Resources, New Zealand
  • Anders Ygeman, Minister of Energy and Digital Development, Sweden
  • Kwasi Kwarteng, Minister of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, United Kingdom
  • Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy, European Commission
  • Kimmo Tiilikainen, State Secretary, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Finland
  • Andreas Feicht, State Secretary for Energy, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Germany
  • Alessandra Todde, State Secretary for Economic Development, Italy
  • Alex Robson, Ambassador, Permanent Delegation of Australia to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Sandor Gaastra, Director-General Climate and Energy, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, the Netherlands
  • Francesco La Camera, Director-General, International Renewable Energy Agency
  • Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation
  • Kim Fausing, CEO, Danfoss
  • Gurdeep Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, NTPC
  • Jean-Pascal Tricoire, CEO, Schneider Electric