Utilities call for joint action to deliver universal access while reducing emissions

New GEI report identifies the untapped opportunities for electricity utilities to further deliver a low-carbon future

Lea este artículo en español

COP-20, Lima, Peru, 9 December 2014 – A joint adaptation and mitigation approach, new energy storage technologies, and stable policies along with a meaningful carbon price will be required if countries are to deliver universal access while reducing emissions. This is according to a new report by the Global Electricity Initiative, released at COP-20 today in Lima, Peru.

The Global Electricity Initiative’s 2014 report, drawing on the views of CEOs of utilities from countries which together account for about 80% of the global installed generating capacity, emphasises that a meaningful price for CO2 is crucial in facilitating significant change in the fuel mix of the global electricity sector.

Urgent action is required to help sustain the growing role of renewables and other carbon-free technologies in meeting the rise in global energy demand, the report finds. On current trends fossil fuels will continue to dominate, supplying between 77% and 59% of global primary energy mix by 2050, according to figures in the report.

Philippe Joubert, Executive Chair of the Global Electricity Initiative, said:

“The report highlights the fact that utilities remain strongly committed to providing a secure supply of electricity as their top priority. Moreover, despite getting contradictory signals and different priorities from regulators and customers, utilities are focusing on decreasing emissions and minimising environmental impacts.”

“The ability to make sound investment choices in the electricity sector is heavily dependent upon the existence of long-term stability in policies and regulation. This stability is direly needed. The European Council’s climate agreement and the historic accord between the US and China to reduce their CO2 emissions have sent encouraging signals. Now, it is crucial to build on the momentum in Lima in reaching a focused and comprehensive agreement for Paris next year and to kick-start the action to provide sustainable energy for all.”

Christoph Frei, Secretary General of the World Energy Council, which hosts the GEI secretariat, said:

“Utilities have lost their status as darling of the financial industry as they face great uncertainty and political risk. In 2014 we have seen a great need for a new electricity market design to address an increasingly unpredictable supply due to growing shares of solar and wind in the electricity mix. Water and land issues are among the top priorities requiring new solutions. With input from the leaders representing 80% of global supply, this survey provides essential insight into the key challenges and opportunities to achieve a more sustainable electricity system.”

The Global Electricity Initiative report finds that:

  • For the utilities surveyed, security of supply is the first priority and climate change is a reality. 100% of the utilities believe that adaptation to climate change is as important as mitigation.
  • The change in energy mix is possible but will need time. Therefore, long-term thinking, stable and clear regulation, strong collective commitment, and a meaningful carbon price are crucial for decisions on how to redirect investment.
  • 96% of the utilities see new advanced energy storage technologies as crucial success factor to growing the share of renewable energy. In addition, they are already working on other advanced technologies such as smart grids and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The Global Electricity Initiative report also finds that utilities support the objective of bringing energy to all by 2030.  However, they express concerns that universal access to energy, in particular in Africa and Asia, will not be achieved unless governments, industry and the international community take immediate concerted action.

Kandeh K. Yumkella, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer for Sustainable Energy for All, commented:

“Transforming the current inequitable and unsustainable global energy system will require sustained political efforts as well as the participation of many stakeholders including governments, the industry, the private sector, civil society and multilateral development partners among others to ensure everyone is able to manage their lives and thrive economically.”

The survey, conducted with the global management consulting firm Deloitte, Southern Africa Office, also showcases best practices and the views of senior industry executives.


Download the 2014 Global Electricity Initiative report

Media contact:

Monique Tsang, World Energy Council (GEI Secretariat)

tsang@worldenergy.org / +44 20 3214 0616


Notes to Editors


About the Global Electricity Initiative

Launched in Durban in 2011 at the COP-17 summit, the Global Electricity Initiative is now driven by three of the largest industry-based and sustainability networks in the world: the World Energy Council (also hosting the secretariat of the initiative), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP).

The report showcases actions by industry and communicates the vision of top level industry executives towards increasing electricity access worldwide in a sustainable and affordable manner. It presents these findings based on a survey of the energy leadership community and their actions undertaken to mitigate and adapt to climate change.


GEI’s Industry Leaders Advisory Board is tasked to provide the initiative with strategic guidance and industry insights.  It includes the following senior executives (by alphabetical order of countries):

  • José da Costa Carvalho Neto, Eletrobras, Brazil
  • Thierry Vandal, Hydro-Québec, Canada
  • Liu Zhenya, State Grid Corporation of China
  • José Antonio Vargas Lleras, Codensa, Colombia
  • Hervé Machenaud, EDF Group, France
  • Peter Terium, RWE, Germany
  • Richard Lancaster, CLP Holding Group, Hong Kong
  • Arup Roy Choudhury, NTPC, India
  • Sam Amadi, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Nigeria
  • Evgeny Dod, RusHydro, Russia
  • Saleh H. Alawaji, Saudi Electricity Co., Saudi Arabia
  • Steve Lennon, Eskom, South Africa
  • Nicholas K. Akins, American Electric Power, US


About the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP)
Created in the wake of the 1992 Rio Summit, the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership is a CEO-led non-profit international organization, composed of the world’s leading electricity companies, whose mission is to promote sustainable energy development through electricity sector projects and human capacity building activities in developing and emerging nations worldwide. Since its inception, GSEP’s activities have reached over 100 countries

The Partnership members are: American Electric Power (United States), Comisión Federal de Electricidad (Mexico), EDF (France), Eletrobras (Brazil), ENEL S.p.A. (Italy), Hydro-Québec (Canada), Iberdrola (Spain), JSC “RusHydro” (Russia), Kansai Electric Power Company, Inc. (Japan), RWE AG (Germany), and SGCC (China)


About the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development is a CEO-led organization of forward-thinking companies that galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment. Together with its members, the Council applies its respected thought leadership and effective advocacy to generate constructive solutions and take shared action. Leveraging its strong relationships with stakeholders as the leading advocate for business, the council helps drive debate and policy change in favor of sustainable development solutions.

The WBCSD provides a forum for its 200 member companies – who represent all business sectors, all continents and a combined revenue of more than $7 trillion – to share best practices on sustainable development issues and to develop innovative tools that change the status quo. The Council also benefits from a network of 60 national and regional business councils and partner organizations, a majority of which are based in developing countries.


About the World Energy Council
The World Energy Council is the principal impartial network of leaders and practitioners promoting an affordable, stable and environmentally sensitive energy system for the greatest benefit of all.

Formed in 1923, the World Energy Council is the UN-accredited global energy body, representing the entire energy spectrum, with more than 3000 member organisations located in over 90 countries and drawn from governments, private and state corporations, academia, NGOs and energy-related stakeholders.

The Council informs global, regional and national energy strategies by hosting high-level events, publishing authoritative studies, and working through its extensive member network to facilitate the world’s energy policy dialogue. The World Energy Council acts as the Secretariat for the Global Electricity Initiative.

www.worldenergy.org and @WECouncil