Climate change is having an increasing impact on violent conflict, compounding global humanitarian and security challenges. Record numbers of forcibly displaced persons are stretching resources and leaving global institutions struggling to respond. The existing toolkit to address conflict is limited, and international approaches have not sufficiently accounted for the interconnected dynamics of climate change, conflict and energy poverty. Renewable energy represents roughly 75% of all global climate financing, with the political and economic focus overwhelmingly on the worst polluting countries rather than the worst affected. However, the places most vulnerable to climate change and conflict are also some of the most energy poor. More than 850 million people live in 27 of the countries most affected by these three phenomena, primarily in Africa, the Middle East and Southern Asia. Many of these countries sustain existing international humanitarian and peace operations in places with limited energy infrastructure and investment incentives. In 2017, as much as $1 billion will be spent by these international agencies to supply and power diesel generators, while the host communities most often remain in the dark. There is a better alternative.
Renewable energy offers a unique entry point for our work. Dramatic reductions in hardware costs and improved technology have facilitated a revolution that is sweeping much of the world. Yet conflict and crisis risk settings generally lack the financing mechanisms and investment vehicles that have supported renewable energy growth elsewhere. To address this gap, we have developed the Peace Renewable Energy Credit (PREC), to encourage clean energy transitions by monetizing renewable energy generated in existing international humanitarian and peace operations. Existing renewable energy credit (REC) markets have contributed to stimulating renewable investment globally. The PREC will extend these markets to some of the world’s most vulnerable places, delivering additional pro-peace co-benefits associated with new clean energy assets in conflict and crisis settings. PREC-supported renewable energy systems will significantly decrease energy costs for international missions, advance the Sustainable Development Goals and better align the values of international humanitarian donors by extending green commitments to foreign aid spending. It will also create long-lasting clean energy assets that can serve as the building blocks for peace and development in the post-conflict/crisis phase by increasing energy access, encouraging follow-on investment, creating new revenue streams, seeding local businesses and creating jobs. The PREC will ultimately create momentum for a sector-wide shift towards a green conflict prevention model involving both public and private sector actors.