IRENA Eleventh Assembly Live Day 1

18 January 2021| Articles

 Watch on demand: World Energy Transition Day

Opening session

High-level Panel on Energy Transition for Sustainable Post-COVID Recovery 

Almost 2000 delegates from more than 150 governments, the private sector and civil society gathered virtually to discuss key issues in the global energy transformation and chart the way forward for the Agency against a backdrop of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, Francesco La Camera, IRENA Director-General, presented the Annual Report on the Implementation of the Work Programme and Budget and opened the floor for Member Interventions. The real-time account of the session is accessible below. All recorded Member statements can be found on IRENA YouTube channel.

See the  Full Programme

IRENA Deputy Director-General Gauri Singh closed the Interventions session by thanking everyone who participated. She stated that all views heard today will help IRENA in reviewing its work going forward, and to support all Members in achieving their renewables targets with the goal of climate neutrality. "IRENA is aware of the expectations put upon the Agency and we start preparing to face the common challenges, we look forward to strengthen cooperation with all members," she concluded.

H.E. Mr Traore Lamine Seydou, Minister of Mines, Energy and Water, Mali congratulates IRENA for the efforts to organise the 11th session of the Assembly virtually. In the past years, Mali has increased its efforts to deploy renewables in rural areas, and the country's efforts were supported by IRENA. Thanks to IRENA ADFD Project Facility initiative, Mali inaugurated its first solar farm with 50MW capacity this year. "Our aim is to increase access to energy and improve our citizens livelihood," he concluded.

H.E. Mr Patrick Moody, Ambassador of UK to the UAE underlined the country's focus on building back better and its ambition to deliver clean growth and reach a net-zero goal. As President of COP26, the country aspires to secure the most ambitious climate change commitments to date. To achieve it, we will continue relying on IRENA's work in the area of energy transformation, he concluded.

Hon Duminda Dissanayake, State Minister of Solar Power, Sri Lanka noted that 2020 was a challenging year for the world, but we must keep pursuing our mitigation efforts to face the climate challenge. Sri Lanka's renewables have been reliant on hydropower, but the country started exploring bio and solar energy. Within the decade, the country has tripled the renewables capacity adding additional renewable technologies. "We also encourage young entrepreneurs to be engaged in the efforts to decarbonise our economies," he concluded.


See the video statement by Japan's State Minister for Economic Trade, Mr Ejima Kiyoshi

Hon Teodoro de Vales, Permanent Secretary, Mozambique has commended IRENA for adapting to the current situation and organising the virtual Assembly. He outlined that Mozambique has increased its renewables share with solar and bioenergy, in an effort to provide all citizens with access to energy. IN addition, the country has created the right environment to attract investments by improving regulatory framework and allocating the necessary budget. He continued encouraging the collaboration of public and private sectors to direct funds to renewable energy projects. With the support of IRENA, Mozambique is currently in the process of reviewing its NDCs which will enable to put in place the right measures to decarbonise country's economic activities. Mozambique appreciates IRENA's support even in the midst of the common challenges caused by the pandemic, he concluded.


Members Interventions continue with focus on advancing energy transition and scaling up renewable energy deployment. Members share their goals and lessons learnt from project implementation to date, underlying the importance of just transition, community benefits including jobs and energy security. 

In his intervention, Mr Dinesh D Jagdale, Joint Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, India has outlined India's commitments on NDCs and stated the country has one of the highest rate of growth of renewable energy in the world. The country has taken multiple steps to successfully increase the renewables capacity, among others a recent national hydrogen energy mission including innovation and necessary policy support measures.

Mr Prasert Sinsukprasert, Director-General, Department of Alternative Energy Development, Thailand outlines how his country has increased its ambition to embrace renewable energy with full commitment to the energy transition. The country has ventured into new technologies including blockchain, that would help drive the deployment of renewables even further. The focus has been put on setting up a plan to implement energy community in rural areas, hoping to increase access to energy and provide better living conditions after COVID-19, he concluded.

H.E. Mr Alvaro Ceriani, PR and Ambassador of Uruguay to the UAE said that the country is at the forefront of new energy transition and set the goal to become carbon neutral by 2050  in line with the Paris agreement. He also expressed the country's readiness to work with IRENA on advancing energy transformation globally. 

H.E. Mr Hussain Rasheed, Minister of Environment, Maldives has outlined how his country is transforming their energy sector by integrating renewables into the energy mix. The goal is to make energy more affordable to the community and meet the climate goals. Maldives set a goal to become a net-zero economy by 2030. He continued underlying that more ambition is necessary to reduce emissions and ensure energy security globally, and encourage IRENA to further enhance the high-level dialogue on energy transformation and facilitate engagement with the private sector. 


Today's Member Interventions have started. 

Mr Indu Shekhar Chaturvedi , 11A Vice-President and Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, India is presiding this session. He welcomed all participants an opened the floor for interventions. 

The Members Interventions are over for today. We will proceed tomorrow at 10am with the real-time live stream and blog. 

H.E. Mr Parviz Shahbazov, Minister of Energy said the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the energy sector worldwide. But the world pushes through with its climate ambition, with countries announcing climate neutrality targets. Azerbaijan is keen to tap into the country's potential in solar and bioenergy. An inter-agency commission has been established to pursue the achievement of renewables targets. Other measures related to incentives and aimed at attracting investments are being put in place. Such initiatives open the opportunities for sustainable development in Azerbaijan, with close partnership between public and private sectors, he concluded. 



Hon Seamus O'Regan, Minister of Natural Resources in Canada stated that the work in his country is way under way. Canada is already beating the Paris Agreement 2030 climate targets. The country is planning to phase out electricity from coal by the end of this decade and is investing in new sources of electricity generation to achieve net-zero goals. In addition, the country has set a national strategy for hydrogen and plans on supporting zero emission vehicles, fund retrofits and adopt nature-based solutions for a cleaner future. "IRENA is central to all of this," he added. 


In his intervention, Mr Zhang Jianhua, China said IRENA has done a good job in facilitating activities and initiatives that advance renewable energy. During the pandemic, together we face many challenges in accelerating the global energy transition, but IRENA has shown innovative ways in highlighting the pathway to a zero emission future, he added, underlying that this has proven IRENA's position as leader in the global energy transformation. As member of IRENA, China's renewable deployment plan is aligned with IRENA's vision, especially since the Chinese government has announced the target to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. Renewable energy will play a key role in the journey towards that future, and strengthening cooperation with IRENA and members is one of the ways to achieve that, Mr Zhang Jianhua concluded.


Ms Ditte Juul Jørgensen stated that for Europe there is no going back to normal after the crisis. We should fund national recovery plans that are fully in line with the energy transition and climate neutrality, she continued. In this context, she outlined that the EU is developing measures to establish targets related to climate neutrality, set up strategies to advance off-shore renewable energy and identify measures for the energy transition to be just. EU is putting in place EUR 750 billion for decarbonisation measures, making sure that the investment creates jobs and improve welfare of all EU citizens, she conluded.


Mr Hae-Seok Ryu, South Korea praised IRENA's work on hydrogen and the publication of recent reports on Green hydrogen cost reduction and Green hydrogen: A guide to policy making. he continued that the policy study has become a guidelines for policy makers to advance green hydrogen as a key element in the decarbonisation efforts. South Korea has created a net-zero 2020 action plan to achieve sustainable development and promote welfare. Mr Hae-Seok Ryu underlined the importance of partnerships and working together for global green growth, with IRENA leading the efforts. 


H.E. Virginia Palmer said that the US and its private sector are striving to be at the forefront of the race towards climate neutrality. She outlined that as pointed out by IRENA, renewables can lead in job creation in the global energy transition, and jobs increase have been seen in different clean energy initiatives and projects in the US as well. But the transition should include those poeple in the fossil fuels sector. The essential role that IRENA plays in advancing policies that support clean energy solutions needs to be continued and supported by Members so our collective goals can be achieved.


Members Interventions have started. 

H.E. Mr Benoit Revaz from Switzerland congratulates Mr La Camera on quick response in adapting to the current situation and focusing on what opportunities may emerge from the COCID-19 crisis. he welcomes IRENA's increasing attention to issues of sustainable finance.



Assembly President Teresa Ribera closed the high-level panel by emphasising the importance of COP26 this year to review the different targets of countries and enhance the ambition collectively to accelerate the global energy transformation. This assembly is a testament of IRENA's great work in advancing cooperation and leading the energy transition dialogues. "We must keep in mind however the human angle aspect of the transition agenda. We must race to ensure that the transition remove human kind from poverty."


High-level guests concluded that the 2021 is a critical year of action. Speakers agreed that while it is possible to achieve the goals established under the Paris Agreement, much more must be done to increase the trajectory of the energy transition to align with a 1.5 future. The message was clear - we need quicker, cheaper energy transition pathways.

See latest IRENA analysis on Post-COVID Recovery and Reaching Zero with Renewables 


H.E. Mr Tan See Leng, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Trade and Industry and Second Minister for Manpower, Singapore said it is important for the global community to prioritise on faster energy transition. "To achieve that, we need to live green, to power green, and to develop green market structure," he underlined. He assured that Singapore will continue to invest in research and development in the area of sustainable energy, as well as to enhance collaboration with market players. "Singapore is committed to do its part in the ASEAN region, and the global community," he concluded. 

Watch the full statement: 


Speaking to how African needs can be reflected in the climate and energy discussion, Damilola Ogunbiyi, said that it is important for Africa to be part of every conversation on energy transitions. “It is not just about offering a solar lamp. Renewable energy is about energy for economic growth in Africa. The young African teenager has the same aspirations as the Chinese teenager or the American teenager. Globally we have to commit to Africa.”

EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, says 2020 has been an encouraging year. “So many countries have become more invested in climate action. In the EU we believe in leading by example. By doing so we can show that this is an effective way to stimulate the economy, create jobs and lower energy bills across Europe and the world. I am certain that this year will be the year when we invest a lot in renewables both under state budgets and private sector.”

Mr Stern underlined the importance of COP26 and its mission to get the countries to go to a whole new level. "It is great to see countries talking about mid-century goals of net-zero emissions, yet he repeated after Mr Steiner "not on a current trajectory". The speakers all underline the urgency and need for action. 


H.E. Mr Suhail Mohamed Faraj Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, United Arab Emirates said it is premature to say how the pandemic will further impact the energy sector. At least we know that there is less energy use during the pandemic. As with other countries, one of UAE's energy objectives is energy security, and reducing energy intensity is one way to achieve it. Using less energy is also the cheapest way to conserve the planet, he concluded. 


The discussion continues.

Mr Steiner says that every time if you go back in time looking at the environmental legislation, it has always been cheaper and faster than predicted, and that is where we are now. The cost of inaction is higher than the investments we are talking about to achieve the goals. "We can achieve 1.5 degree scenario but not on the current trajectory (...)and not with the current investment," he said. "It is a global, common objective we need to pursue. Commitment to action on climate change must be global, we can do it (...) but we have lost a lot of time and it is time that worries me now," he concludes. 


Mr Makhtar Diop, Vice-President for Infrastructure, World Bank, said that there should be an alignment between nationally determined contributions with the global climate target. That is why it is important to use the momentum of COP26 to review all targets and develop fitting strategies and plan to implement them. He is also optimistic that public fund can leverage and mobilise institutional capital, as found by IRENA in its study last year. World Bank is going in that direction, to make sure that public policies are very much aligned with the direction of private investment to realise the energy transition that the world envisions.


Mr Francesco La Camera, Director-General, IRENA in his final remarks thanked the participants. 

He confirmed it is difficult to achieve 1.5 goal but "IRENA can build on experience and theory of change outlined in the Global Renewable Outlook and Post-COVID agenda and show a path to carbon neutrality."


Mr Todd Stern, Former Special Envoy for Climate Change, USA said "the consensus to hold temperature to 1.5 degree Celsius is creating the pressure for all of us to get to net-zero by 2050," he stated. Mr Stern progressed to outline that he expects the US to be coming back aggressively with a robust climate end energy plans under under President-elect Biden. A large green recovery programme will be in place with a core focus on energy transition. The targets will include achieving climate neutrality by 2050, 100 per cent clean electricity by 2035 and a focus on just transition. 

"It is ambitious, but I think it is doable,” affirms Stern. “It is a very positive picture in the US. The focus on climate change has never been this high.”


Mr Achim Steiner, Administrator, UNDP is convinced that energy transition needs to be put into socio-economic context. There is a need for investment in energy transition technologies and now it is up to governments to create the frameworks to meet that investment need.


Ms Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO, Special Representative of the UNSG for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy underlines the importance  of energy transition for all - transition that does not leave anyone behind. IRENA is a key part of the dialogue on energy transition moving forward. " We are all connected and we are not on track," she said. "It is important that we globally come together and play our part to get people out from energy poverty and create a sustainable energy pathway forward," she concluded. 


UAE Energy Minister Suhail al Mazrouei says the UAE is a true believer in the need for transition. He notes that the UAE is targeting 44 per cent renewables by 2030 and an additional 6 per cent from nuclear. The Minister notes that the Emirates is currently updating their energy strategy and that he is ‘excited’ by the falling costs of renewables being witnessed in the UAE.  “I expect, given the prices that I am seeing, we may increase our targets for renewable energy."



Energy Transition is the current issue in view of sustainable development and post-COVID19 recovery, said H.E. Ms Mila Aziable, Minister Delegate to the President of the Republic in charge of Energy and Mines, Togo.  Renewables are more crucial than ever before to strive new technologies and decentralised electrification at affordable price, she concluded. 


In his intervention, H.E. Mr João Pedro Matos Fernandes, Minister for Environment and Climate Action, Portugal said the country is fully aligned with European mission. He underlined that already 57% of electricity generation in 2019 was renewable, and the country very successfully launched solar PV auctions and is involved in efforts to scale up production of green hydrogen needed for decarbonisation of hard to abate sectors.



H.E. Ms Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy, European Union, stated that when it comes to energy, we don’t have to go back to normal. Our old normal has been leading us to irreversible damage to our planet. By investing into renewable energy sources, we want to reduce energy costs, improve air quality, create jobs and become a powerhouse for clean energy innovation.

Ms Simson emphasised that the path towards global energy transition is full of challenges especially since COVID-19, but this is where a strong cooperation is needed. There is a plan in Europe to give strong support to green hydrogen, as it will help accelerate the pace of the transition.

H.E. Mr Aziz Rabbah, Minister of Energy, Mines and Environment, Morocco, said that the government is convinced that renewable energy can help solve the problem of energy access in his country. Morocco is increasing cooperation with other countries to support each other in scaling up renewables.


Andreas Feicht, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Germany, outlined how this crisis is a challenge, but it also provides a refreshing momentum for clean energy transition. IRENA plays the leading role in this momentum as renewables have become more and more effective and efficient around the world, he underlined.

He progress to show how renewables have been our number one size for generating electricity in Germany. Yet, it is not time to bring energy transition to other industries and sectors. The government of Germany is convinced that green hydrogen can be the key for full decarbonisation. That is why Germany has created a framework to create and advance the market for green hydrogen, he conluded.


In her remarks, H.E. Ms Andrea Meza, Minister of Energy and Environment, Costa Rica shared how energy transition can accelerate the economic growth in our countries. Costa Rica has just finished a process of updating NDCs, with the national goal to achieve 100% renewable energy in energy mix without putting energy security at risk. The country is demonstrating it is possible already with 99% renewables in its energy mix in 2019. Ms Meza underlined that country is now promoting electrification of mobility "good for the economy, good for the people, good for the environment."

H.E. Mr Raj Kumar Singh tells the IRENA Assembly that “My vision is to electrify India’s economy and to green our energy. We plan 11-12 million electric vehicles by 2030. We are a large country that is growing rapidly – this growth provides us with the space for a rapid transition. Indeed, we have the fastest growing renewable energy capacity in the world today.”

John Defterios, the moderator of today's panel, welcomed the panellists and remarked that COVID-19 has impacted the energy sector around the world. He invited H.E. Mr Raj Kumar Singh, Minister of New and Renewable Energy to share the challenges and progress of energy transition in India in this context.


Assembly President Teresa Ribera, Deputy Prime Minister of Spain and Minister for Ecological Transition and says that all over the world, we are seeing countries pledging their climate neutrality goals by 2050. She notes that governments and societies are striving to deliver safer and more prosperous societies as we recover from this crisis. Ms Ribera urges governments to prioritise a just, balanced, inclusive transition that is aligns global recovery efforts with climate goals.


The 11th Assembly High Level Panel on “Energy Transition for Sustainable Post-COVID Recovery" is now opened by Ms Ribera, 11A President and Director-General, Francesco La Camera.

Mr La Camera said: "Putting the energy transition at the heart of the crisis response will be essential to any recovery and to building resilience for the future."

See the opening video: 



Director-General Francesco La Camera cordially welcomed all participants and announced that this Assembly is starting with the World Energy Transitions Day.

He stated: "2020 made it crystal clear that we can no longer continue with business as usual if we are to live in the world that is safe, resilient and prosperous for all. This is true for all nations and all segments of the global economy. And energy transitions will play a vital role in our common ability to overcome the health crisis and leave the path to the deeper climate crisis."

UAE Climate Change and Environment Minister, Dr Abdullah Al Nuaimi reaffirms the UAE’s commitment to IRENA’s work and applauds the Agency’s growing influence around the world as the intergovernmental agency for the energy transformation, “IRENA has seen exceptional growth from 83 members to 163 members with a further 21 countries in the process of accession”.
The Minister also outlined that the UAE’s updated NDCs includes an aim to develop the region’s first commercial carbon capture, utilization and storage programme and to increase the share of clean energy to 50 per cent by 2050. 

In his remarks, H.E. Mr Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General addresses the energy challenges that led to the establishment of the 'High-level Dialogue on Energy' to be convened in September, underlining the importance of SDG7: to achieve universal access to energy and IRENA's role in driving energy transformation globally.


The President of the 11th Assembly is H.E. Ms Teresa Ribera, Deputy Prime Minister, Spain. She was welcomed by H.E. Mr Bachir Ismael Ouedraogo, Minister of Energy of Burkina Faso.

Albania, Costa Rica, India and Ghana are nominated Vice-Presidents of the 11th Assembly. 

H.E. Ms Teresa Ribera, Deputy Prime Minister, Spain has welcomed all the participants and provided the context for the meeting today. The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed us to recognise the vulnerabilities in our current system of prosperity, witness the resilience and viability of renewables. "It has put the energy transition at the heart of our efforts to build a better world," she stated.    


Welcome to IRENA 11th Assembly blog. The event can be followed via a live-stream link on this page and IRENA social media.

Today, more than 90 Ministers and high-level officials and around 800 government participants representing 133 countries and the European Union gathered virtually to discuss key issues in the global energy transformation and chart the way forward for the Agency against a backdrop of the current COVID-19 pandemic.  Almost 1,300 participants representing institutions from the public and private sector, civil society and academia as well as media representatives have joined the event.