Dear Members and followers of the Global Solar Council,
First of all, I would like wish all of you and your families a great and sunny 2020. As I take up my role as chairman of the Global Solar Council, I am keenly aware of what an honor and responsibility it is to guide this unique association, which unites the entire value chain of the solar industry in all five continents and represents several tens of thousands of companies all over the world.
I am sure that, as you read this, you are aware of the enormous costs the climate crisis is already having in terms of natural disasters, disruption to our economies and even fatalities. And poor countries are paying the highest price. These are the places that rightly deserve our maximum attention considering that the GSC has among the pillars of its mission to provide low-cost, reliable and clean energy everywhere, enhancing energy security and alleviating poverty. Today, as we continue to celebrate the rapid growth in solar markets and economic competitiveness against fossil fuels, the main barrier to achieving our mission is not technology and it’s not cost; rather, it’s the willingness of governments to implement appropriate policies, invest in education and support access to finance.
For this reason, our solar industry has to put social responsibility at the heart of the business and not see it as a marginal activity. The climate crisis can be combatted only through a radical paradigm change that requires new lifestyles and conscious, ethical responsibility of global populations towards coming generations. Just 2% of global energy demand comes from solar but triggering a sharp increase requires an effort in educating people at all levels about the wider impact of energy choices. Today, small residential and commercial installations represent a big portion of the market in many mature countries meaning the potential is huge if we replicate this model and if people make the difference.
A global association such as the Global Solar Council needs to bring together the global industry in one strong voice and talk about this prospect in simple language, even with the support of environmental associations. We need to “educate” voters so they can support politicians that put the environment at the top of their agenda. Moreover, we need to support the establishment of national solar industry associations in many developing countries and stimulate governments to adopt policies based on the successful experiences of mature markets.
Partnerships need to replace the walls that exist between public institutions and the private sector and even within green industry sectors. Strengthening our existing partnerships with governmental institutions, such as IRENA, and initiating new ones, for example with UN institutions, can help the GSC to express its recommendations on policy, education, etc. to a large number of governments. In addition, our sector needs to ensure reliable, consistent market and technology data and information are available to guide strategies and plans of governments and corporates.
Innovation is a key driver of GSC’s strategy. All clean-tech industries need to cooperate on innovation to find synergies and develop circular economy solutions. Our partnership with the International Desalination Association (IDA) that I had the pleasure to initiate in 2017 at the IDA World Congress in Brazil, as Co-Chairman of GSC, goes in this direction.
As we look forward, 2020 will be the year for assessing the Kyoto Protocol results and defining new targets: COP26 is expected be an important step forward after the COP21 in Paris. Experience has shown that the Kyoto targets were not ambitious enough and were beaten by many countries regardless of the lack of long-term government strategies. We need to learn from that experience. GSC has organized a side event at the last two COPs and this year we will work to strengthen our presence at this important appointment.
I would like to conclude my New Year message by underlining the importance of transparency and ethical behavior to build trust in our industry. We need to disseminate a culture of based on these principles. A clean source of energy such as solar cannot be associated in any way with a different set of values.
I will bring these thoughts to the Global Solar Council board meeting on January 14th in Abu Dhabi. That will be the occasion to define the association’s action plan for 2020 and have a session to update on markets and technology that is open to all companies and institutions interested in supporting the GSC mission: “to promote the rapid adoption of solar energy globally, through market development, partnership and education”. I will be glad to hear your feedback so that I can bring them with me to the board meeting.
Happy new year!
Chairman, Global Solar Council