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What Certification Should a Company Take to Contribute to Clean Energy Day on 26 January?


Solar energy, abundant and versatile, can be harnessed even on cloudy days. | PHOTO:Raphael Pouget/UNICEF
Solar energy, abundant and versatile, can be harnessed even on cloudy days. | PHOTO:Raphael Pouget/UNICEF

 

26 January: Clean Energy Day!

Energy, the lifeblood of modern society, is at the forefront of a global challenge that intertwines social equity with environmental preservation. At the heart of this challenge lies the urgent need for clean energy solutions that mitigate climate change and bridge the gap for communities deprived of reliable power sources. The International Day of Clean Energy observed on 26 January, serves as a poignant reminder of our shared responsibility to foster a just and inclusive transition towards sustainable energy for the benefit of both people and the planet.


Clean Energy and Social Impact

In a world grappling with climate change, the significance of clean energy becomes increasingly apparent. Beyond its role in reducing emissions, clean energy has the power to uplift communities lacking access to reliable power sources. Shockingly, 675 million people, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa, still live without electricity, hindering progress in education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. The connection between clean energy, socio-economic development, and environmental sustainability is pivotal in addressing the challenges faced by vulnerable populations worldwide.


Challenges on the Horizon

Despite progress, the world is not on track to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) by 2030, which aims to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy. The General Assembly's Global Stocktaking on SDG7 in April 2024 will assess progress and recommend solutions. The dire consequences of inaction are evident: by 2030, one in four people could still rely on unsafe, unhealthy, and inefficient cooking systems, perpetuating poverty in many developing regions.


Clean Energy's Role in Climate Change Mitigation

The fight against climate change is intrinsically linked to adopting clean energy. A significant portion of greenhouse gas emissions originates from burning fossil fuels for energy production. To limit the impact of climate change, we must shift away from fossil fuels and invest in alternative, clean, and sustainable energy sources. Renewable energy, derived from the sun, wind, water, waste, and Earth's heat, offers a viable solution, emitting minimal greenhouse gases and pollutants into the atmosphere.


The Need for Energy Efficiency

In addition to embracing renewable energy sources, enhancing energy efficiency is paramount. Implementing more efficient technologies across various sectors, such as transportation, buildings, lighting, and appliances, saves money and reduces carbon pollution. Improving energy efficiency ensures universal access to sustainable energy for all.


Commemorating International Clean Energy Day

The International Day of Clean Energy, declared by the General Assembly, is a global call to raise awareness and mobilise action for a just and inclusive transition to clean energy. Falling on 26 January, it is also the founding date of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Established in 2009, IRENA is vital in supporting countries' energy transitions, fostering international cooperation, and providing data and analyses on clean energy technology, innovation, policy, finance, and investment. All parties can contribute to this effort, especially industrial players in the energy sector. Company owners must ensure that the energy produced and marketed is environmentally safe.


Clean Energy Certification

Companies can pursue several certifications and initiatives to demonstrate their commitment to clean energy, sustainability, and environmental responsibility. These certifications often provide a framework for companies to assess and improve their environmental performance. Here are some notable certifications and initiatives that companies can consider:


1.      ISO 14001: Environmental Management System (EMS):

ISO 14001 is an international standard for environmental management systems. It provides a framework for companies to establish, implement, maintain, and continually improve their environmental performance.


2.      LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design):

LEED is a green building certification program that recognises best-in-class building strategies and practices. It covers various aspects of sustainability, including energy efficiency, water conservation, and indoor environmental quality.


3.      Carbon Trust Standard:

The Carbon Trust Standard certifies organisations that have successfully reduced their carbon emissions and demonstrated a commitment to sustainability. It is recognised internationally and covers a range of sectors.


4.      Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Certification:

Cradle to Cradle Certification assesses products and materials for their environmental and social performance throughout their life cycle. It encourages the design of products with positive impacts on people and the planet.


5.      RE100:

RE100 is a global initiative that encourages companies to commit to using 100% renewable energy. Companies joining RE100 pledge to transition to 100% renewable electricity within a specified timeframe.


6.      Science-Based Targets (SBT) Initiative:

The SBT Initiative helps companies set science-based targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement's goal to limit global warming. Companies align their emissions reduction goals with climate science.


7.      B Corp Certification:

B Corps are businesses that meet the highest social and environmental performance standards, transparency, and legal accountability. B Corp Certification is a rigorous process that assesses a company's impact on workers, communities, and the environment.


8.  Green Power Certification (e.g., Green-e):

Green power certification programs verify and certify organisations' renewable energy claims. For example, Green-e certification ensures that companies use environmentally friendly and sustainable energy sources.


9.  Energy Star Certification:

Energy Star is a program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that certifies energy-efficient products and buildings. Obtaining Energy Star certification can demonstrate a company's commitment to energy efficiency.


10.  United Nations Global Compact:

While not a certification, the UN Global Compact is an initiative that encourages businesses to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies. Companies commit to ten human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption principles.


Conclusion

As we commemorate International Clean Energy Day, let us reflect on the pressing need to accelerate our efforts towards a sustainable and inclusive energy future. Clean energy is not just a solution to climate change; it is a pathway to empowering communities, eradicating poverty, and safeguarding the planet for future generations. On this pivotal day, the journey towards a cleaner and brighter future begins with collective awareness, commitment, and decisive action.




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