Science warns again: world urgently needs to get on track with climate action
It is still possible to limit global warming to 1.5oC, but the measures now in place and in the pipeline won’t be effective enough, says UN climate panel IPCC. In its latest report the IPCC calls on the international community to urgently pursue ambitious climate action, despite the other major challenges confronting the world today.
In its latest report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that, in all likelihood, global warming will soon exceed the 1.5oC limit agreed in Paris. Without additional measures, the IPCC forecasts that mean global temperature will increase by as much as 3.2oC by 2100. So it is vital to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy sources around the world.
Work in developing countries
A fast transition to renewable energy is key in combating climate change. No one can or should be left behind. To this end, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports sustainable energy solutions in developing countries.
The Netherlands has set an ambitious goal of helping at least 50 million people gain access to renewable energy by 2030. This is important in order to avoid carbon emissions, enhance wellbeing, increase resilience to climate change and create economic opportunities for the most vulnerable. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs uses funds, investments and grants to support projects that are working on sustainable energy solutions, including biogas, cleaner cook stoves and solar power.
A house without electric lights or a kitchen is almost unimaginable in the Netherlands. Yet some 800 million people worldwide live without electricity, and nearly three billion people have no access to modern cooking facilities. Many people use dirty cooking fuels, such as dried manure or firewood, which is bad for their health as well as for the environment.
From cow dung to biogas
Electricity and clean fuel made from cow and pig manure? It sounds bizarre, but it is possible using the innovative biodigester developed by Sistema.bio. The biodigester converts organic waste into biogas that can be used as fuel for cook stoves, power generators or farm machinery.
There is always a lot of organic waste on farms. Farmers add this waste to the biodigester, where it is broken down by microorganisms in the waste. One of the results of this process is gas, which rises to the top of the biodigester, where it can be harvested and stored for later use. The solid part remaining in the biodigester can be used as fertiliser.
With a biodigester farmers no longer have to buy chemical fertiliser. And they also spend less on fossil fuels, like kerosene. The biodigester can be purchased via a ‘pay as you go’ scheme, so that farmers do not have pay a large sum in one go. After the investment period, there are no other costs. If a farmer has enough organic waste, they will have free biogas and fertiliser.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports Sistema.bio via the Access to Energy Fund. The fund supports energy generation, transmission and distribution projects in developing countries. The fund focuses on sustainable energy solutions, and is a collaboration between Dutch development bank FMO and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ethanol cook stoves
Cooking with dirty fuels like wood, charcoal, coal, manure or kerosene releases greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Black carbon, for instance, is one of the worst climate pollutants. Black carbon particles (soot) are airborne for only a short period but they are a major contributor to global warming. By absorbing sunlight, they speed up atmospheric warming. This effect is up to 1,500 times greater than the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide.
In Kenya dirty fuels are often the only affordable option for low-income households – an unacceptable situation, according to KOKO, which brought an affordable two-burner ethanol cooker onto the market. More than 180,000 households in Nairobi now use a KOKO cooker.
KOKO cookers are sold by local retailers that also have an in-store KOKO fuel dispenser. People can choose how much fuel they buy, from as little as 30 Kenyan shillings worth (around €0.25) at a time. In this way KOKO also provides access to clean cooking for people with variable, low incomes.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports KOKO via the SDG 7 Results programme run by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). The programme supports activities by companies and NGOs that contribute to access to sustainable energy for households in developing countries.
In Mozambique and Malawi only a small percentage of the population has access to the national electricity grid. SolarWorks! produces small solar-powered electricity systems for people who are not connected to the national grid. This way, they too have electricity at home for lighting and charging their phones.
SolarWorks!, which started out as a student’s graduation project at Delft University of Technology, has become an industry leader in the off-grid solar sector in southern Africa. The company’s smallest solar home system generates enough energy for charging a phone and burning three lights. Larger systems generate enough power for refrigerators, TVs and audio systems. Health clinics in Mozambique and Malawi use these systems for their pharmaceutical refrigerators, used to store vaccines and other medicines, for instance.
SolarWorks! products are also sold on a ‘pay as you go’ basis. This keeps the costs low and once the last payment is made, the owner has free electricity. Some 70,000 customers in Mozambique and Malawi have already purchased a SolarWorks! solar home system.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports Solar Works! through the Energising Development (EnDev) programme. The programme aims to improve access to modern, renewable energy with a view to promoting social and economic development and combating climate change. The driving force behind EnDev is a partnership of Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland.