Companies, Countries Boost Their Clean Tech Spending Pledges

Governments from the biggest carbon emitting countries, and a growing number of large companies, are pledging to boost their spending for clean-tech research and spending, while also increasing their targets for using renewable energy.

Many of the latest pledges came at the Clean Energy Ministerial meetings in San Francisco earlier this month, where energy ministers from around the world came together to discuss transitioning to clean energy. The meetings came six months after the adoption of the Paris climate accords at COP21, and included a separate conference of Mission Innovation, the initiative that governments launched at COP21 with the intent of scaling up their development and deployment of clean energy.

The Ministerial has been held in different countries each year since 2010. Next year it will be in China, and it will shift to an as-yet-undetermined European Union member state in 2018. This year, in addition to the meetings, delegates toured Bay Area technology hubs like Tesla Motors and got an update on Google’s self-driving cars.

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The Ministerial and the Mission Innovation meetings “are major driving forces for how the U.S. and global community can achieve the commitments made under the Paris Agreement,” U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz says. “The outcome of these two meetings can play an important role in deploying clean energy technologies today and developing tomorrow’s solutions that will facilitate the world’s transition to a clean energy economy.”

In conjunction with the meetings, many corporations and governments made new clean-energy pledges, or extended previous promises. Here are some of the corporations, and the pledges they made:

 – Ingersoll Rand: The industrial company committed to the   Ministerial’s Advanced Cooling Challenge, which was created to encourage governments and companies to make, sell, or install super-efficient air conditioning or cooling solutions. IR’s commitment includes a investing $500 million by 2020 in product-related research and development to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The company also pledged a 35% reduction in carbon emissions from its operations by 2020. “A central strategy for achieving these targets is applying energy services and building automation systems from its Trane Building Advantage brand to improve the efficiency of their own facilities with high-efficiency, smart and climate friendly building energy management systems and Trane cooling equipment,” the company says in a statement.

– Schneider Electric. The energy management and automation company joined the Ministerial’s Energy Management Campaign, an effort to increase the rate of ISO 50001 adoption. ISO 50001 is an international energy management standard designed to help organizations better manage energy. The company also committed to a 10% reduction in its energy consumption, 10% in carbon dioxide savings from internal transportation, and achieving zero waste to landfill certification in 100 of its  facilities.

– Tetra Pak: The packaging company joined the RE100 movement, pledging to get 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. About 20% of the company’s electricity today is renewable. Tetra Pak earlier set a target to cap carbon emissions at 2010 levels through 2020. Last year, its emissions were down 15% from that 2010 baseline, even though production rose 16%.

– Microsoft: the software giant reasserted its commitment to power its data centers with at least 50% solar, wind or hydro power by 2018, and 60% by the early 2020s.  The company also says it will maintain 100% carbon neutrality.

– Autodesk: The software company says it is now powering all of its facilities with 100% renewable electricity, four years ahead of schedule, through the use of renewable energy certificates (RECs). The company will now look to buy additional, local renewable energy to boost demand in the areas it operates. And Autodesk has set an internal price of carbon to help it align its business decisions and investments with a low-carbon economy, as well as to prepare the company for future carbon taxes.

Other companies that have recently made a RE100 pledge include data center provider Equinix, financial services company TD Bank, modular carpet manufacturer Interface, advertising and marketing group Dentsu Aegis Network,  and enterprise cloud application provider Workday, says the Climate Group.

Among the many commitments, announcements and other actions from national governments made at the Ministerial:

China will continue to implement policies to boost clean energy development and deployment,  President Xi Jinping said in a letter to the summit, according to a report in the state-run China News Service. The report did not mention any spending figures, but Xi said China’s upcoming efforts will include moving toward a  low-carbon energy system, promoting green buildings and low-carbon transport, and the establishment of a national carbon emission trading market.

Japan will increase spending on research and development for clean energy technology to about 90 billion yen ($810 million) by fiscal year 2021, Nikkei Asian Review reports. Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Motoo Hayashi announced the plans at the Ministerial. Japan wants to especially focus on increased-efficiency solar cells, rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles, and producing hydrogen in a way that doesn’t produce carbon dioxide.

India plans to double its clean energy research budget, from $72 million to $145 million, in the near future, the Hans India reports. Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, made the announcement in San Francisco. Among India’s areas of interest are solar energy, smart grids and efficient cooling systems. Vardhan also noted that India recently implemented the world’s largest LED lighting program.

Canada will double its spending on clean energy research, to C$775 million ($600 million) by 2020, the Globe and Mail reports. Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr made the announcement in San Francisco. Carr said he also expect more cooperation with the U.S. and Mexico in areas such as energy storage, common energy efficiency standards and carbon capture technologies.

South Korea will double its clean tech research and development spending to more than 1 trillion won ($840 million) by 2021, its government announced at the Ministerial. The Korea Times reports that the government has six main research areas and has now developed a “detailed road map” for research and development in each. Those areas include renewable energy, carbon capture and nuclear power.

Italy will provide $7.2 million in new funding to support the World Bank Group’s Lighting Global program, the White House announced. Italy has given more than $20 million to the lighting program since its first pledge at the inaugural Ministerial in 2010.




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