Lucy Pearson, Climate Parliament
21. Feb. 2023
Parliamentary meeting on global climate negotiations and green grids in Southern and East Africa
The Paris Agreement committed governments to try to keep the planet’s temperature rise below 1.5C. Achieving this target would require a rapid transformation of the energy system in all parts of the world and urgent steps to protect endangered ecosystems. Elected politicians have the strongest mandate to decide on an accelerated global energy transition. With the Paris target of 1.5C in danger of slipping away, it is time for elected Members of Parliament and Congress to get more heavily involved in global, regional and national decision-making on the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
The Climate Parliament and its partners are developing a plan to get legislators involved as never before in implementing the Paris Agreement, in order to democratise the global process, mobilise political will, generate climate action at a much-increased speed and scale, and contribute to making the global climate process more inclusive. It will unfold on three levels:
1. Global. At each climate COP, a Climate Parliament session will convene MPs from every continent, made up of equal numbers of women and men. Transnational committees of MPs will hold national climate envoys and international officials to account, and rally NGOs, scientists and business leaders to accelerate the climate talks towards effective implementation on the ground.
2. Regional. Between the annual COPs, regional Climate Parliament sessions will bring together climate champions from national and regional parliaments to monitor implementation of the Paris Agreement within their own part of the world, and to advance key regional measures t. This includes building continental-scale green grids connecting everyone to the best locations for solar and wind power in different time zones within the region. It also includes deep cooperation among countries sharing the world’s primary forests, rivers and other ecosystems, to ensure their protection and to ensure the highest standards for international carbon markets. It can include cooperation to foster cleaner regional trade and transport corridors, and any other regionally relevant steps for accelerated climate action.
3. National. National Climate Parliament groups will monitor the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that each country has committed to under the UN Climate Convention. They will press for strengthening of their NDC year by year, hold their national governments to account on the specific actions and policies that are needed to achieve the NDC targets on time, and will get more closely involved in climate finance issues.
Among the most important infrastructure needed to achieve the Paris targets are continental-scale green grids in every region. The world has enough solar and wind resources to power many world economies. Solar and wind power in a single location are variable. For renewable energy to provide a reliable source of affordable energy 365 days a year, it has to be harnessed over a wide area. While energy storage and green hydrogen have a key role to play, large-scale green grids offer a number of benefits: connecting everyone to the best renewable energy locations, crossing time zones and thus prolonging the “solar day,” avoiding the displacement of food production, and becoming a key enabler of human and economic development.
The discussions in South Africa will focus on the initiatives currently underway for green grids in Southern and East Africa, highlighting the role that parliamentarians can play to accelerate the construction of this critical infrastructure. Researchers and experts will brief the MPs on the Paris Agreement and climate negotiations, global carbon budgets, the NDCs in Africa, efforts on national parliamentary capacity building in Africa, Integration of renewable energy into electricity grids, interconnection initiatives in Africa, modelling tools for green grids, financing grids and the role of the private sector, among other topics.