The increase in greenhouse gases, caused by human activity, is leading to a rise in the average global temperature and in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events with irreversible consequences on ecosystems. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “it is extremely probable that the increase in average global surface temperature observed from 1951 to 2010 was caused at least 50% by increases in concentrations of GHG (greenhouse gases) due to human activities”. Furthermore, as confirmed by the IPCC in its latest Special Report, it is estimated that human activities have already caused a 1°C increase in the global average temperature, which should reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052. If the temperature continues to increase at the current pace, with significant consequences on both land and ocean ecosystems: increased frequency of extreme weather events (storms, hurricanes, flooding, drought, wildfires), rising ocean and sea levels due to melting glaciers and irreversible changes in ecosystems, with increased extinction risks for a large number of species, especially if we cannot contain the increase in average temperature to 1.5°C.
In December 2015, the COP21 in Paris (the annual UN Climate Conference) produced a long-awaited agreement on climate change, which provides a concrete and credible framework to pursue the path to decarbonization, in terms of ambition, transparency and funding. The definitive legal text of the agreement calls for long-term global objectives that are as clear and ambitious as possible to face climate change and a framework of transparent governance to provide investors with the necessary visibility on national goals and the policies planned to support them. It also calls for strengthened Climate Finance through a renewed commitment to usually governmental top-down funding and the use of bottom-up tools like carbon markets.
The attention to climate change is gaining increasingly determined support from a vast range of stakeholders hoping for a rapid and sustainable energy transition. Given the great relevance and the increasing sense of urgency conveyed by the scientific community on climate change, in recent years the number of subjects feeling directly involved is increasing notably. They want to help come up with new ideas and actions that can provide an impetus for Policy Makers. Topics like air quality, forest management, the circular economy, carbon pricing and a fair transition, which in the past were dealt with in a circumscribed way, are now addressed and supported as inseparable pieces of an integrated framework. These challenges are being pursued with the help of ambitious goals both in developed countries and in emerging economies relying on a faster energy transition. Clear evidence of this comes from the numerous conferences on climate organised throughout the year by different stakeholders in various places on the planet, which aim to encourage governments within the United Nations’ negotiation process.
In December 2018, the COP24 in Katowice was successful in approving the much anticipated “Paris Rulebook”. This outcome demonstrates the willingness of governments to move forward despite uncertainties about the economic cycle and difficult geopolitical dynamics. The final text features positives and negatives, reflecting the varying levels of progress reached on various negotiation fronts. It contains very positive signs on the transparency of actions taken by governments, transparency that increases medium- and long-term political visibility and regulatory stability for investments. The results are disappointing when compared to the ambition of national goals regarding the speed of energy decarbonization. The agreement reached is also not particularly satisfying on Climate Finance, which should support investments needed for the energy transition and the reduction of emissions in non-energy sectors. On ambition and Climate Finance, negotiations will continue for the next UN Climate Summit, called by the General Secretary of the UN, António Guterres, for the second half of 2019. For the rest of the technical rules, work will continue moving toward the next COP 25, which will be held in Santiago de Chile.
In this complex scenario, Enel is committed to providing a rapid and efficient execution of the energy transition, with its vocation as a sustainable company. With the increased attention demanded by a wide range of stakeholders to themes like the growth in energy demand, decarbonization, urbanization, electrification and a demand for greater sustainability, Enel is carrying out its Energy Transition Roadmap projects, providing its support to countries with different drivers and expectations. A strong push toward renewable energy, the important role of electrification in all sectors (industry, residential and transport) and of digitalization (like big data, smart meters, Demand Response) are the main impetuses Enel acts on: all while paying close attention to social aspects, in the full spirit of collaboration inspired by the Paris Agreement.
1. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), Summary for policy makers, 2013
2. Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)