The RE100 initiative, led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, has grown leaps and bounds in recent years, and in 2018 — amidst the starkest warning yet from scientists of the dangers of climate change and unchecked global warming — RE100 added 37 new companies, bringing the total up to 155 companies creating demand for a phenomenal 188 terawatt-hours of renewable power each year — equivalent to the 23rd largest country in the world.
First launched at Climate Week NYC 2014, the RE100 initiative is designed to bring together influential corporations which have committed to sourcing 100% of their electricity needs from renewable energy sources. Run by non-profit The Climate Group in collaboration with CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), RE100 currently boasts 155 members (as of November), having brought 37 new corporations on board in 2018 alone.
If RE100 were a country, it would represent the 23rd largest electricity consumption in the world, at 188 terawatt-hours (TWh) annually, and boast combined revenue of $4.5 trillion, 5% of global GDP.
In 2018, the RE100 initiative was able to greatly expand its global markets, now impacting more than 140 markets around the world. The initiative has identified Japan, Australia, Mexico, Turkey, and Taiwan as growth hotspots.
It’s not just commitments being made, either, but successfully achieved commitments, with 37 companies already boasting in excess of 95% renewable electricity, and 6 having reached their 100% goal.
“With so much depressing news at the moment, here we have a refreshing, positive story of how ambitious corporate action is changing the world for the better,” said Helen Clarkson, CEO, The Climate Group. “We congratulate RE100 members on the progress they are making by building renewables into their growth strategies, and engaging policymakers and suppliers. This is what all leading multinationals should be doing.
“There’s no room for complacency – we’ve still some way to go – but this unstoppable momentum should give national governments the confidence to set more ambitious emissions reduction goals, in line with the latest science and no more than 1.5°C warming.”
“Over the past year we’ve seen rapid geographic expansion of our membership that has transformed RE100 into a truly global movement,” added Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100, The Climate Group. “This is hugely exciting and has the potential to shift entire markets in places like Japan, where policymakers are taking note of the demand signal being sent by our members.
“2019 will be all about building that demand across sectors and geographies with the highest potential to effect change, accelerating the clean energy systems of tomorrow.”
Helen Clarkson’s comment that the RE100 initiative “should give national governments the confidence to set more ambitious emissions reduction goals” is important, because as time goes by we are seeing non-national actors stepping up and increasing climate ambition, often over and above that of the nations which they call home.
“Non-national actors are incredibly important in driving adoption of renewable energy, which is why The Climate Group works with both businesses and sub-national governments as secretariat of the Under2 Coalition,” explained Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100, The Climate Group,” who spoke to me via email regarding the importance of non-national actors.
“When it comes to business, private sector electricity usage accounts of two-thirds of the world’s demand – a huge number, and a huge potential for renewable transition, and climate mitigation. Businesses are in a unique position to accelerate the transformation of the global energy market, and the RE100 initiative is driving that forward. As well as adding actual capacity to the grid, this corporate action is sending a strong message to national governments that is already driving policy change that will open the gates to change at scale.”
What’s more important is that not only is the work of non-national actors such as corporations reaping its own rewards and benefits, but it is impacting governments around the world.
“The leadership that corporations are demonstrating on renewables has definitely had a positive impact on national governments,” said Kimmins. “In Japan for example, the new companies who have joined RE100 have opened doors to ministerial conversations with the national government. RE100 and the RE Source Coalition in Europe have succeeded in generating support for corporate sourcing within the text of the European Clean Energy Package. The consistent commitments from corporations sends a clear signal to national governments that there is a market for renewables there – and it’s ready for investment, expansion, and policy commitments.”
That same impact that has been seen throughout Europe also partly explains why European-based companies are so dominant in RE100. Specifically, Europe boasts 77 RE100 members, while North America is home to 53. Well behind is Asia with 24 and Oceania with only 1 — though, importantly, 10 of the new 2018 members are based in Japan, showing that country’s growing importance. As to why Europe and the US remain so dominant?
“The renewable energy movement started in the US and Europe,” explained Kimmins. “There has since been huge growth, and we’re expanding into new markets. We have two new joiners in the Taiwanese market, 13 new Japanese firms, and just last week we announced the first Australian company to join RE100. There has been a 41% increase in the amount of renewable electricity sourced by RE100 members in just one year – that is really impressive growth. With this rapid expansion now reaching 140 markets globally, it’s hugely exciting, and has the potential to shift entire markets in places like Japan, which is a real growth hotspot.”
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