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Philanthropists join forces to create $1bn distributed green energy platform to fight climate change

IKEA Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation to help make renewable energy more accessible as part of a global push to fight climate change and curb greenhouse gas emissions

A $1bn distributed renewable energy (DRE) platform that seeks to improve the lives of one billion people around the globe by tackling climate change is being jointly created by two philanthropic organisations.

DRE refers to renewable energy generated by off-grid technologies and mini-grid setups that are sited close to the point of use by businesses and consumers to reduce society’s reliance on larger, centralised power plants.

The initiative is being jointly spearheaded by the IKEA Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, which plan to run the operation as a charitable endeavour.

The IKEA Foundation is an independently run philanthropic organisation with ties to the Swedish home-furnishing retailer of the same name, while the Rockefeller Foundation is a philanthropic venture with a specific focus on making renewable energy more accessible to people.

By joining forces, the pair hope the platform will be able to provide clean and reliable renewable energy to the 800 million people around the world who are currently without power, and to a further 2.8 billion who have intermittent and unpredictable access to electricity.

“While funding to support energy transition has increased at a global level, many organisations struggle to identify viable, investment-ready projects,” said the two organisations in a statement. “As a result, many emerging economies still depend on unreliable and polluting energy sources.

“By creating a platform to deploy catalytic capital more efficiently, and at scale that supports the expansion of local renewable energy projects, governments will be better able to achieve renewable electrification and development targets.”

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IKEA Foundation CEO Per Heggenes said the initiative also arose from a realisation that without urgent intervention to reduce society’s reliance on fossil fuels globally, the greenhouse gas reduction targets within the Paris Agreement will be difficult to achieve.

“Our collective ambition is to create a platform that supports renewable energy programmes that can deliver greenhouse gas reductions fast and efficiently and accelerate the energy transition,” said Heggenes. “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 one billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions and, by doing so, we hope to positively impact the lives of one billion people.”

Rajiv Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, said the economic fallout from the “climate crisis” is on course to be worse than first feared as a direct consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Millions of lives and trillions of dollars have been lost to Covid-19, forcing people back into poverty after decades of progress,” said Shah. “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 galvanise a better future. That is why we are announcing our largest commitment to date and joining forces with the IKEA Foundation to double that investment.”

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