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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Two foundations just unveiled a $1 billion initiative to help deliver clean energy to huge numbers of people worldwide who lack electricity access — and they hope it catalyzes vastly more outside capital.

Driving the news: The Rockefeller and Ikea foundations said the new program "aims to reduce 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions and to empower 1 billion people with distributed renewable energy."

  • The new platform will be housed in the RF Catalytic Capital division that Rockefeller launched last year, which it calls a way for "impact investors, and governments to combine their resources and expand their global philanthropic reach."
  • The goal is to unlock finance for areas like micro-grids and off-grid renewable power.

Why it matters: While the initial $1 billion on its own is nowhere near the scale needed to sustainably expand global access, the Financial Times reports that the effort is aimed at mobilizing much more money.

  • "[T]hey hope to attract $10bn of additional funds this year from international development agencies, before opening up to institutional investors in a bid to expand renewables investment in countries such as India, Nigeria, and Ethiopia," the FT reports.
  • It quotes Rockefeller President Rajiv J. Shah expressing hope that the effort could eventually reach $100 billion or even $1 trillion by using "philanthropic capital as a lever to get commercial capital."
  • This morning's announcement says the foundations see the new platform as a way to identify "viable, investment-ready projects."

The big picture: Meeting rising global energy demand in developing countries without a corresponding increase in emissions is a key global challenge — especially as scientists say steep emissions cuts are needed to contain global warming.

By the numbers: An estimated 759 million people worldwide lacked electricity as of 2019, per joint analysis from the World Bank and other agencies.And the two foundations' announcement this morning notes that access is unreliable for another 2.8 billion people.

What they're saying: An International Energy Agency report this month looked more broadly at the need to scale up finance for climate-friendly energy in emerging and developing economies worldwide.

  • They estimate that by the end of this decade, "annual capital spending on clean energy in these economies needs to expand by more than seven times, to above USD 1 trillion, in order to put the world on track to reach net-zero emissions by 2050."

Go deeper: EPA releases list of top cities with Energy Star-certified buildings

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Sep 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

This week is crunch time for Biden's climate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

This week is critical to determining the fate of President Biden's climate agenda.

Driving the news: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last night pledged a vote on bipartisan infrastructure legislation Thursday, rather than today as initially hoped.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Sep 27, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Europe's energy price crisis threatens CO2 cuts

Power station in Neurath operated by RWE AG is seen near Rommerskirchen, Germany on August 10, 2021. Photo: Tang/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Several new analyses point to the same conclusion: Europe's natural gas and power crunch shows that its transition to clean energy could be derailed absent better supply and market management.

The big picture: A new essay in Foreign Policy lays out the many reasons behind the energy crisis and gas supply tightness in particular: Cold snaps earlier this year that boosted gas demand and hampered U.S. production.

Biden's reengineer-America moment

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Senate's bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and President Biden's $3.5 trillion spending package could live or die this week — and take Democrats' fortunes with them. But all the minute-by-minute political drama obscures how much America could change if even a fraction of it passes.

The big picture: Anything short of total failure could have a transformative impact on day-to-day life — from how we move around to our access to the internet, paid family leave and child care, health care and college.