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Electric Utility Alignment with the SDGs & the Paris Climate Agreement

Toledano, Perrine; Shah, Aniket; Maennling, Nicolas Wolfram; Lasnick, Ryan J.

The purpose of this report is to provide a conceptual framework to guide corporate alignment of the electric utility sector with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement (PCA).

The electric-utility sector, being at the core of the global energy system, will play a central role in achieving the decarbonization of the world economy and, therefore, efforts to achieve sustainable development. The utility sector is central to global decarbonization efforts with electricity and heat generation making up 41 percent of global emissions in 2017. Furthermore, electricity demand is forecasted to grow significantly, driven by population and economic growth, as well as efforts for broad-based electrification to reduce emissions from the industrial and transport sectors. The decisions of the electric utility sector, through its role in power generation and distribution, will be crucial in determining whether decarbonization of the energy system happens at the needed pace to prevent catastrophic impacts of climate change.

We believe that the creation of a clear conceptual framework for specific sectors can be a powerful way of focusing the attention of a broad set of stakeholders to pursue meaningful changes for sustainable development. This report is motivated by a belief that conceptual clarity is needed in re-thinking how businesses are or are not promoting sustainable development in general, and the SDGs and PCA specifically. We are hoping to bring rigor to reporting standards to hold companies to account for their real actions, not only their rhetoric. This should result in clearly distinguishing between good and weak performers in the electric utility sector.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
Publisher
Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
Published Here
April 15, 2020