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Professor tells COP27 to move faster on energy transition




For green energy on a global scale, the world must work faster.

Professor Cornell Semida Silveira presented the first official statement of a United Nations engineering task force – the Council of Engineers for Energy Transition (CEET), formed by UN Secretary General António Guterres – at the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP27) climate change meeting on November 11 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

The document aims to create a global pathway to accelerate the achievement of net zero carbon emissions in energy by 2050.

“The world must move at a very rapid pace,” said Silveira, professor of systems engineering practice at Cornell Engineering, “and expand scale to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, maintain the goals of the Paris within reach and mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change on all aspects of human life and the environment.

Silveira – as a representative of her group – said that CEET wants to leverage global engineering expertise to strengthen regional collaboration, establish knowledge networks with UN member countries and seek partnership opportunities. , demonstration projects and technology transfer cooperation.

The statement says clean, efficient and smart technologies are now available for wider deployment to reduce carbon emissions while supporting progress towards universal access to affordable, reliable and sustainable modern energy.

To achieve energy progress, the statement suggested:

  • Reduce energy concentration in the economy by implementing policies and measures that leverage technology, data and digitalization to drive energy efficiency, while supporting economic growth, industrial development and prosperity worldwide;
  • Electrifying end-use goods – such as heating systems in buildings, cooking stoves and passenger vehicles – which now often depend on fossil fuels and pursuing decarbonisation pathways for industry and heavy transport; and
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy supply in all sectors.

“There are many clean, efficient, and smart technologies available today,” said Silveira, who is also a faculty member at the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability. “They can be deployed on a larger scale to reduce global emissions, while simultaneously supporting progress towards universal access to affordable, reliable and sustainable modern energy.”

Nearly three dozen engineers from around the world make up the CEET, which was launched in September 2021. The high-level group was created to solve the challenges of scaling technology in the global energy transition and to recommend guidelines for countries to stay in line with the Paris Agreement.

Gerd Müller, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and Jeffrey Sachs, President of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, are the Co-Chairs of CEET.

CEET works with global agencies and policy makers to ensure that their recommendations are sustainable, fair and able to support economic development – ensuring that positive financial outcomes occur in people’s lives – which include the creation of new jobs in the clean energy sector.

“At the moment we are 35 engineers from all over the world,” Silveira said. “We are united by our commitment to sustainability. And we want to help implement solutions, as engineers and as citizens of the world.

Silveira said, “Let’s work together for transformational change that will take us down the path we agreed and designed in the Paris Agreement.”