New COP26 Energy Transition Council to be co-chaired by UK government and SEforALL launched at CEM 11


The UK Government, host of the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference (COP26), has announced the formation of a new ‘COP26 Energy Transition Council’ to drive the shift to clean energy ahead of COP26 and will be supported by Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL).

The new Council aims to bring together leaders in the power sector across politics, finance and technology to speed up the transition from coal to clean renewable energy in developing countries.

The UK will chair the Council alongside SEforALL CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy, Damilola Ogunbiyi. The Council was announced by Lord Callanan, UK Minister for Climate Change, at a special Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) event alongside Ogunbiyi.

Transitioning to clean power is an urgent priority in the global climate crisis fight – and an option that makes economic sense. It is now cheaper to build new renewables than operating 60 percent of existing coal power plants, with cooperation between countries on power sector reform continuing to grow.

However, there is still a long way to go to meet global goals, with over fifty countries still building new coal plants - the most polluting source of power generation - on top of the 2000GW of coal power that already exists. Research shows that the global transition to clean power needs to progress four times faster if we are to meet the Paris Agreement on climate.

To address this, the COP26 Energy Transition Council will convene global political, financial and technical leadership in the power sector to work together over the 15 months to COP26 to accelerate the transition from coal to clean power as part of a green economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on the announcement, Alok Sharma, COP26 President and UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “Climate change affects every single one of us and we all have a part to play to champion climate action ahead of COP26.

“Through the COP26 Energy Transition Council and the UK’s ambitious climate finance commitments, I hope to drive the transition to cleaner energies, and I urge all businesses, cities and regions to join the Race to Zero coalition.”

Speaking at the launch, Damilola Ogunbiyi underscored the importance of the new council working with other key international moments, including the High-level Dialogue on Energy set for next year’s UN General Assembly. “We cannot achieve the promise of the Paris Agreement or Sustainable Development Goal 7 - access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all - without a clean energy transition that leaves no one behind. Today, just under 800 million people globally lack access to electricity and we must close these gaps with renewable, efficient and affordable solutions”, Ogunbiyi said.

“The COP26 Energy Transition Council will play a leading role in supporting countries to move away from fossil fuels and unleash a prosperous, equitable and clean energy transition as they recover better from the pandemic. Ahead of COP26, the UN High Level Dialogue on Energy will support this vision, including through Energy Compacts and multi-stakeholder partnerships that aim to accelerate universal energy transition and access.”

The full membership of the COP26 Energy Transitions Council is:

  • Chair: COP26 President, Alok Sharma (UK Minister Kwasi Kwarteng will act as Deputy Chair)
  • Co-Chair: CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Sustainable Energy for All, Co-Chair of UN-Energy, Damilola Ogunbiyi
  • International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director, Fatih Birol
  • International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Director General, Francesco La Camera
  • World Bank (WB) Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships, Mari Pangestu
  • International Financial Corporation (IFC) COO, Stephanie von Friedeburg
  • African Development Bank (AfDB) Vice President Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth, Kevin Kariuki
  • Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice President for Sustainable Development, Bambang Susantono
  • International Labour Organisation (ILO) Director of Enterprise, Victor van Vuuren
  • Chile (2021 Chair of CEM and Mission Innovation) Minister of Energy, Juan Carlos Jobet