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Ikea and Rockefeller foundations pledge $US1bn to “reliable, renewable” energy access

The IKEA Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation announced on Monday plans to create a $US1 billion initiative to designed to bring renewable energy to over three billion people without electricity or with unreliable electricity, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1 billion tonnes.

The new platform, which is intended to launch this year, will be run as a public charity designed to channel potentially life-changing funds to clean energy projects that will help the millions of people around the world who currently do not have access, or reliable access, to electricity.

Further, the platform will oversee the two foundations’ matching funds to kick-start economic recovery in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, while similarly enabling emerging economies to leapfrog reliance on fossil fuels and jump straight to renewable energy sources.

Thus, the new $US1 billion platform will focus on empowering 1 billion people with distributed renewable energy sources such as mini-grid and off-grid solutions, located near the point of use, rather than promoting centralised power plants.

Specifically, the IKEA and Rockefeller foundations hope to deliver clean and reliable power to 800 million people worldwide who currently do not have any electricity, and a further 2.8 billion people who have unreliable access to electricity.

“If global energy consumption doesn’t change from fossil fuels to renewable energy, we will not meet the Paris Agreement ambitions and millions of families will be left behind in poverty,” said Per Heggenes, CEO IKEA Foundation.

“We need to be honest and recognize that the current approach is not delivering the impact the world needs in the time that we have.”

A $US1 billion clean energy fund focused from the start on electricity equality and energy poverty for the millions of people across the world who do not yet have reliable access to electricity, perfectly positions itself to tap into a significant wealth of goodwill, funds, and development enthusiasm.

As IKEA pointed out in its announcement, funding for the global energy transition is not necessarily lacking, but an inability to identify viable projects has hindered many countries from participating in the transition, leaving them to rely on fossil fuels.

On top of that, utilising the upwards trajectory of economies restarting after the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic further taps into a potential abundance of opportunities.

“Our collective ambition is to create a platform that supports renewable energy programmes which can deliver greenhouse gas reductions fast and efficiently and accelerate the energy transition,” Per added.

“We need to replace polluting sources of energy with renewable ones, provide access to energy to communities and unlock further funding for sustainable models. Ultimately, we aim to unite countries and communities in urgent action to tackle the climate crisis, reduce 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions and, by doing so, we hope to positively impact the lives of 1 billion people.”

Formed in 1982 by Ingvar Kamprad, a Swedish billionaire and founder of Swedish furniture giant IKEA, the IKEA Foundation has long been focused on funding communities “with the fewest resources build livelihoods and support their families.”

Backed and funded by the INGKA Foundation, owner of Ingka Group which controls the vast majority of IKEA stores around the world, the IKEA Foundation has provided grants to renewable and clean air funds across the planet.

Similarly, The Rockefeller Foundation, founded in 1913 by the American banking family that remains one of the world’s wealthiest families, has similarly made its name by providing focusing its grant giving to four specific areas – ending energy poverty, universal health, expanding economic opportunity, and improving access to food.

“Millions of lives and trillions of dollars have been lost to Covid 19, forcing people back into poverty after decades of progress,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “The effects of the climate crisis will make this even worse, which is why we must invest now to reverse this downward spiral.

“Big, bold, and pioneering collaboration and investment is required not only for the short term, but also the long term, to galvanize a better future. That is why we are announcing our largest commitment to date and joining forces with IKEA Foundation to double that investment.

“Our partnership will unlock the financing and resources that are essential to provide clean, reliable electricity that improves the lives and livelihoods of people everywhere.”