1 December 2021

COP 26: a global stage to assert our position on climate change

The COP26, an international conference organized by the United Nations, which took place from November 1 to 12, 2021 in Glasgow (Scotland) has closed its doors. It brought together the signatories of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to negotiate new targets and means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Some feedback on our participation to this new edition which met record attendance.

How to reconcile access to energy and climate protection? : feedback on our round table

After a wink in London Railway station “Thank you for travelling by train” on the train journey to Glasgow, the team representing our NGO, consisting of Tania Chauvin (Project Manager) and Alexandre Anjuere (General Delegate), went through interviews, meetings and conferences.
Here is a look back at our round table dedicated to examples of projects that improve access to energy for the poorest populations, while promoting their economic and human development and preserving the climate.
Our message was mainly based on the different tools and means used within our NGO to meet this double challenge. Below is a summary in two main points.

1/ Renewable energy to meet the electricity needs of isolated populations

The vast majority of Electricians dans frontières’ projects are modest in size, with an average of a few dozen KWp per installation. While this may not seem much, it proves that change can be made in a decentralized way, by and for isolated communities. Our projects seek first to address the following priority: to provide a solution to the energy needs of those who are currently deprived of it. We consider that access to electricity is an essential service and a precondition to a satisfactory access to health and education; whether it is to give birth in good conditions at night, to pump water in the dry season, or to study after dark.

For all these essential needs, decentralized renewable energies are a real solution. This is why most of the Electriciens sans frontières projects consist in installing photovoltaic panels associated to batteries on the roof of a school or a health care center, or installing small solar pumps to avoid depending on rainfall to grow vegetables. In the Sahel, where rainfall is already being impacted by climate change, this means contributing to the resilience and adaptation of the most vulnerable.

Our programs have an indirect decarbonization effect because they avoid the use of fossil fuels on a dalily basis by populations.

2/ Renewable energies to anticipate and demonstrate resilience 

Electriciens sans frontières sometimes intervenes in areas that may seem less concerned by access to energy. However, these areas will reveal their fragility during crises, whether natural or economic, which will multiply with climate change.

An example of this is our intervention in Dominica, initiated as part of an emergency response to Hurricane Maria.

It is necessary to note that Dominica, while contributing to an extremely low extent to climate change, suffers the effects of it first, which is the case for many small island states. We are witnessing a multiplication of extreme climatic events, with important consequences. In 2017, Hurricane Maria affected more than 90% of the buildings on the island of 75,000 inhabitants. The centralized electrical network was cut for several weeks.

This disaster pushed the Prime Minister of Dominica to engage a policy of transformation to rebuild differently in the perspective of future climate events and thus to be more resilient to the effects of climate change. Electricians sans frontières was called upon in this framework.

We then designed a pilot project with the installation of wind-resistant photovoltaic panels on the roofs of 6 health centers, coupled with batteries allowing a 3-day autonomy. This technical solution allows the panels to be dismantled in complete safety so that they are not destroyed by the hurricane. This method also allows the centers to no longer depend solely on the network and to reduce their operating costs. This has a direct impact on electricity bills. Finally, this project increases the share of renewable energy in the island’s energy mix. This example shows how Electriciens sans frontières combines access to energy for basic needs, the fight against climate change in both mitigation and adaptation, and the improvement of the island’s resilience. More broadly, it also improves human and global health.

A COP punctuated by meetings and conferences

We were able to meet Alexandre Marty & Rémy Bussac from the EDF Group, Alexandre Alix from the French Water Partnership, to participate in conferences and expose our methods and projects during several moments, notably :

– On the French pavilion, where Jean-Yves le Drian marked the importance of the International Solar Alliance. Ajay Mathur Executive Director of the International Solar Alliance: “Solar has proven to be the most robust solution to meet the Paris Agreement.

– On the “SDG7” pavilion of SE for ALL, Gogla with ENGIE, Acumen and PowerAfrica, among others, advocated for off-grid solutions via quality products so that access to energy is not only for the richest.

– On the air of France Inter, on Wednesday, 3rd November from 09min 50s

We would also like to congratulate the city of Paris for its UN Climate Action Award. We are particularly proud of this recognition because it is our partner on projects in Togo, Bangladesh and Senegal.

COP 26: what’s next?

This summit, was intended to be a historic moment at a time when the warnings of scientists and experts are multiplying, does not finally constitute a major turning point in the fight for the climate. There is still a long way to go.

Indeed, a few days before the COP26, the United Nations Environment Programme published its report on greenhouse gas emissions, and the conclusion is clear: “The climate commitments made are well below what is needed to achieve the objective of the Paris climate agreement”.

Electricians sans frontières’ mobilization for the climate obviously does not end with this COP26.

Beyond our actions towards the most excluded through the promotion of the use of renewable energies, we are working on the implementation of an environmental policy. It consists of 3 main areas: CO2, waste and biodiversity. Through this more global approach, we wish to improve our programs and minimize our impact on the environment.

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