GEAPP will focus on creating clean energy projects in developing countries Ravi Venkatesan
The Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) was launched on November 2, 2021 at COP26 with $10 billion in committed capital to accelerate investments in green energy transitions and renewable energy solutions in developing economies. developing and emerging. This partnership leverages catalytic philanthropic funding to unlock investment capital with the goal of mobilizing $100 billion in public and private capital to reach one billion people with reliable and renewable energy, avoid and avoid four billion tons of carbon emissions and create, enable, or support more than 150 million jobs and drive economic growth over the next decade. On February 28, GEAPP announced that UNICEF Ravi Venkatesan will act as Chairman of the Board.
In a recent interaction with BW Businessworld, Venkatesan shares his thoughts on the alliance’s planned initiatives, future trends in climate finance and India’s energy transition.
Excerpts from a conversation with Arjun Yadav
You have had an illustrious career with various leadership roles from Microsoft, Infosys, Bank of Baroda to UNICEF. What is the one important learning over the years in these different leadership roles that you would seek to apply in this new role as climate change has become an integral part of the policy framework for countries around the world? How do you see this new responsibility?
I’ve come to understand that solving “nasty” or complex problems requires many stakeholders from the private sector, public sector, civil society and academia to come together in mission mode. The energy transition we urgently need to accomplish is a classic thorny issue with many interrelated factors and stakeholders, which is why alliances like GEAPP are essential. Over the past few years, I’ve had the good fortune to help build two alliances. One is called the Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship (GAME). It seeks to create an entrepreneurial movement in India that will result in 50 million new jobs this decade and inspire similar movements in other regions. The second alliance is called “Generation Unlimited”; incubated at UNICEF; this aims to engage 1.8 billion young people around the world and help them develop the mindsets and skills needed to succeed in the 21st century.
Through these, we learned a lot about how to build and govern such alliances. How you engage the private sector is very important in solving this problem. So I think that experience is probably what will be most valuable. And, of course, it’s incredibly exciting to have the opportunity to play a small part in improving the greatest challenge of our time.
The latest IPCC report has just been released and it shows that things are getting worse on the climate front. After the COP26 summit last year, there has been renewed momentum towards tackling the climate emergency. However, in the past, we have seen this momentum fade a few months after the summit. After COP26, do you see the momentum continuing?
The IPCC report is the latest wake-up call for humanity, another urgent wake-up call that no one should miss. It is true that in some areas we have seen the energy and focus dissipate once the intensity around the Summit subsides, but it is reassuring to see some very positive patterns emerging in some areas that could be built upon. to lean on. For example, look at the $8.5 billion “Just Energy Transition Transaction” between the UK, US, France, Germany, EU and the South African government. The money will be directed towards the retirement of coal-fired power stations, making way for cheaper and cleaner alternative energy with renewables while ensuring that the workers affected are taken care of. GEAPP accompanies these developments through strategic investments.
These are models that could be replicated in India, which is heavily dependent on fossil fuels, as well as similar economies elsewhere in the world. These types of partnerships have great potential to break the deadlock we see between developing and emerging economies in climate negotiations. We are encouraged to see that the Indonesian government is exploring how it could retire some of its coal assets sooner and replace them with clean energy, ensuring a just transition and good clean energy jobs for communities. affected. So, rather than being discouraged by a few engagements that have not delivered full results, we must remain optimistic and try to accelerate the actors, partnerships and models that are having an impact.
On the last day of the summit, India found itself in the middle of a debate when we replaced a crucial coal phase-out clause with a coal phase-out clause. We have cited the western world’s failed commitments on climate finance to justify this change and that is largely true. How do you see the economic evolution of climate finance in the years to come? Additionally, could you expand on mobilizing catalytic philanthropic funding to unlock investment capital?
We agree that OECD countries have not done enough to reduce their own emissions or support the energy transition in the emerging world in terms of concessional finance, technology transfer and capacity building. We are aware that the 81 countries that we classify as “energy poor”, including India, have collectively contributed only 8% of the emissions that cause warming today, compared to 60% for the countries of the OECD. Although the $100 billion climate finance pledge by OECD countries has not borne fruit, it is only a tiny fraction of the trillions required each year for clean investments in the emerging world. This is one of the reasons why we created the GEAPP.
A key trend to watch in climate finance is the growing pressure on public and private investors to exit coal. The flow of capital to finance coal-fired power plants in Asia (mainly Japan, Korea and China) is drying up due to international pressure on these financiers. On the other hand, the renewable energy economy continues to strengthen and private financiers are looking to emerging markets for new projects with increasing interest. Yet, among many financiers, the concern I hear about emerging markets is “not enough quality projects”. There is an appetite for capital investment, but there are not enough projects to deploy it faster.
GEAPP wants to solve this problem in two ways:
- Work in developing countries to create more clean energy projects acceptable to current investors by improving enabling local frameworks.
- Changing the investment criteria of investors themselves: GEAPP can also play a role here by engaging more proactively with private investors and using philanthropic capital to de-risk projects using blended finance structures .
In this way, we could solve the problem on both sides.
How do you see the future of the green energy transition, especially India’s transition dynamics? We have this conversation after the budget that identified climate action as an important goal for India until 2047 and laid out provisions that would give a tremendous boost to the renewable energy sector. We also had the announcement of the national hydrogen policy two weeks ago. So how far are we on track, what more can we do?
At GEAPP, we are encouraged by recent developments in India, particularly the integration of climate considerations into energy and power system planning and efforts to boost the renewable energy sector. It is indeed promising to see the emphasis on green hydrogen and green ammonia in India as these are undoubtedly future technologies that feed on abundant and cheap solar energy. I believe India can gain a competitive advantage in these areas by acting quickly with its high quality solar resources.
At the same time, let’s be aware that in the short term there is a lot of work to be done as India could probably miss its 175 GW target for the end of this year (now at 100 GW). State governments have a shared responsibility to achieve this goal. GEAPP is actively seeking ways to support national and state policy makers to help India achieve its ambitious goals.