Understanding the interlinkages between accelerated climate change and the food-energy-water nexus

Understanding the interlinkages between accelerated climate change and the food-energy-water nexus

VIENNA, 3 December 2021 - The difficulties in reaching a firm agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and facilitate the transition towards a decarbonized renewable energy mix were visible during the recent COP26 negotiations. Countries are still reluctant to decisively embrace renewable energy or energy efficiency because of the technical feasibility obstacles related to their diffusion and the necessary huge investments and high production costs.

An understanding of the barriers to the diffusion of renewable energy and energy-efficiency technologies is hampered by the complexity of the interlinkages among different environmental variables, well represented by the food, energy and water nexus, and among the different Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) objectives encompassing economic, social and environmental dimensions.

Within the context of ICAE (International Conference of Applied Energy), Forschungszentrum Jülich, UNIDO and the prestigious international scientific journals, Applied Energy and Advances in Applied Energy, joined hands to discuss the issue at a special session: “Accelerated climate change and the Food- Energy-Water Nexus”. The underlying idea of the session was to understand these complex interlinkages and to create a bridge between science and sound policy.

Lea Eggemann, Forschungszentrum Jülich, discussed the environmental impact in terms of CO2 eq emissions of a biogas plant with either subsequent combustion in a combined heat and power plant or the direct use of the biogas in a simplified burner. She emphasized the huge potential of biogas to fight climate change by using a German example.

Abu Saieed, UNIDO, discussed the financial viability of technology interventions producing energy, water and materials savings in African countries, with data from the MEDTEST project, which transfers environmental friendly technologies to developing countries. He found that the payback period of environment friendly technology investments is palatable for many firm and country-specific contexts.

Stelios Grafakos, Global Green Growth Institute, presented results of the report, Green Recovery and Climate Action: Assessing Green Jobs from Renewable Energy and Forestry Investments for Developing and Emerging Economies, produced by the Green Growth institute in partnership with other organizations, such as UNIDO and IRENA. Grafakos showed the relevant job opportunities in 27 countries, including in Africa, resulting from a much larger renewable energy diffusion agenda. He pointed out that more communication is needed to show the co-benefits of a bigger renewable energy penetration.

Daphne Keilmann-Gondhalekar and Gabriel Hernandez, Technical University of Munich, discussed the feasibility of energy generation with biogas at the household level. Keilmann-Gondhalekar pointed out that biogas can be used as a replacement of fossil fuels, reducing the carbon dioxide footprint and the strong link to the WEF Nexus cycle.

The moderators of the special session, Holger Schlör, Nicola Cantore and Wilhelm Kuckshinrichs, pointed out the importance of raising awareness of the scientific evidence related to renewable energy and energy efficiency in order to inspire decision making.

Details of the special session can be found here.