CEM7 + World Environment Day: a timely duo of sustainability events

By Deb Noller, Switch Automation • June 6, 2016

Because the 7th Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM7) and World Environment Day were so close together, this past week was all about sustainability and climate change. There’s something contagious about people gathering to take positive action for the environment and drawing support from governments and organizations all over the world.

Switch Automation proudly participated in CEM7, hosted in San Francisco. CEM7 is a follow-up to the United Nations COP21 Convention of Parties Climate Change, taking place in Paris last year. The event attracted energy ministers and global policy makers from all over the world, including the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz.

Ernest Moniz CEM7Part of CEM7 was a showcase of highly innovative companies from around the world developing technologies that impact the use of clean energy or improve energy efficiency. The selection process was highly competitive, and we were delighted to be one of only three Australian companies chosen. We were selected because our smart building Platform connects the physical ‘things’ across large real estate portfolios, enabling proactive maintenance, improved energy efficiency and happier tenants.

San Francisco BuildingsOne stand-out discussion was driven by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) on how to finance the COP21 target, which seeks to limit climate change to two degrees each year. There’s a lot of debate about whether our capital markets have the capacity to fund the clean energy required for this goal. BNEF’s Ethan Zindler debunked a number of myths by providing a fact-based analysis of the capital required and putting that into perspective with today’s capital markets.

His analysis shows that if we carry on with ‘business as usual’ until 2040, we’ll spend $6.8 trillion, but if we agree to develop enough clean energy to limit and meet the COP21 two-degree target then we’ll need $9.4 trillion. This is an uptick of $2.6 trillion, amounting to $150B of additional capital each year.

To put this in perspective, the new car loan market is over $450 billion annually in the U.S. alone — basically, 1/3 of the U.S. new car loan market is enough to fund the world’s clean energy targets.

Capital Markets fund COP21

The finance to back the clean energy targets is just one side of this story and we’re always intrigued by how much airtime the naysayers get. The real opportunity here is the creation of jobs, businesses and new economies, particularly in emerging economies.

Creating new paradigms like steam power, electricity and the internet certainly disrupted incumbents of their time, but the new opportunities for economic growth and progression of the human race in historical terms far outweighed this displacement.

CEM members global clean energy

Clean energy is an opportunity that has the potential to be one of the great economic growth drivers of our time. Australia has several times implemented Renewable Energy Policies with the potential to become one of the leading nations on earth, particularly in solar. Portugal recently powered their entire country for four days from solar power, and Germany has so much renewable energy it has to pay people to use it.

CEM7 was a humbling and inspiring experience for the Switch team. Talking about these global changes with the world’s leaders is music to our ears, but we love to see people ‘walk the walk’ as well. We were delighted to do our part on Sunday 5th June for World Environment Day – our CEO grabbed her bike and went to the local parks to clean up trash.

Switch picks up trash in San Francisco on World Environment Day

Talk the talk and walk the walk – that’s what we’re all about here at Switch Automation.

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