Climate Summit

Sustainable energy transition to be at core of Climate Action Summit


The transition to clean and sustainable energy systems is critical to address climate change - and why it is emerging as a core issue at this year’s Climate Action Summit hosted by UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.

The Summit, which will take place at the UN Headquarters in New York City on 23 September 2019, is focused on boosting ambition and accelerating progress towards achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. It aims at moving forward initiatives in nine interdependent tracks – including the Energy Transition Track which is led by the governments of Denmark and Ethiopia and supported by Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL).

Plans, not speeches

Since announcing the Summit last year, the Secretary-General has called on all national leaders to come with concrete, realistic “plans not speeches” that will enhance their countries nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by 2020 under the Paris Agreement. These plans must be in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.

The energy sector plays a huge role within this transformation. Approximately 80% of global CO2 emissions comes from the energy sector, and is it estimated that renewable energy and energy efficiency alone can bring about more than 90% of the energy-related CO2 emission reductions needed.

The Energy Transition track focuses on the opportunities and challenges in accelerating a sustainable energy transition that leaves no one behind and supports faster progress on climate change. This includes boosting renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy storage, as well as access and renewed innovation in mobilizing energy transition investments.

Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting

As part of the process toward the September Summit, over 1,700 delegates – including Heads of State, Ministers and leaders from across business, civil society and youth – gathered at the start of this month in the Abu Dhabi for a preparatory meeting hosted by the United Arab Emirates.

The purpose of the meeting in Abu Dhabi was to assess progress, strengthen proposed initiatives and support final preparations across all the Summit tracks, with sessions on raising ambition, involving the private sector and addressing the challenge of accessing climate finance.

During the meeting, the Energy Transition Track team hosted the Leaders’ Roundtable on Energy Transition, co-chaired by United Arab Emirates Minister for Climate Change and Environment, H.E. Thani al-Zeyoudi and Special Representative of the Secretary-General and CEO of SEforALL, Rachel Kyte. The session featured ministers and high-level government representatives from over 20 countries, with discussions focused on energy access and efficiency, financing mechanisms, modern energy technologies, and capacity building.

As the supporting institution of the Energy Transition Track, SEforALL and coalition co-leads also hosted several further sessions during the Abu Dhabi meeting, including a workshop with over 80 participants from a diverse group of public-private stakeholders, ministerial meetings with coalition members and representatives from the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) country groups, as well as a high-level presentation session for delegates.

A range of concrete initiatives were discussed and further developed by a broad group of public-private stakeholders, with high-level participation and engagement throughout the sessions. For the Energy Transition Track, initiatives proposed on sustainable cooling, shipping, energy efficiency, battery storage, and a climate investment platform emerged as priorities for the track.

Rachel Kyte, who is a member of the Secretary-General’s Summit Steering Committee, participated in the Abu Dhabi meeting and reiterated that ambitious initiatives and leadership are needed to meet global climate goals: "Some of the initiatives coming out of the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting need to be lifted up, and leaders need to put their names on global initiatives and say that we are going to get this done on our watch. That's the request of the Secretary-General”.

SEforALL will continue to share more Summit related updates on Twitter and on the SEforALL website. You can also follow #ClimateActionSummit online for the latest.

Find out more on the Climate Action Summit here.

For any media requests or interviews with Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, please email


Photo credit: The National