2020 is Almost Here: Reflecting on COP25

REN21 Executive Secretary Rana Adib wrote an editorial for our latest newsletter, reflecting on COP25. Read below and access our full newsletter here.


Dear Readers,


I’m back from COP. As every year, I’m wondering how to keep up the good spirit. This year is even worse: 2020, the critical year to raise ambition on the governments side, starts in two weeks. Many of our elected leaders don’t take their leadership role seriously and seem to continuously ignore the solutions that exist and just need to be implemented (obviously, I refer to energy efficiency and renewables).


Saturday night, exhausted, I joined my partner who had started watching a movie, ‘The Best Of Enemies.’ Here is the story: 1971, Durham, North Carolina, Bill Riddick arranges charettes-meetings*  for Durham residents to tackle desegregation. The concept of these meetings is that all stakeholders in a project attempt to resolve conflicts and map solutions. Civil rights activist Ann Atwater and Ku Klux Klan leader C.P. Ellis don’t want to join the steering committee at first. When they finally get involved, they rival, meet, and come to realise that they are not at the core so different. By engaging and leaving their comfort zones, in a coordinated space for doing so, and with empathy, they bring change to Durham. School segregation stops thanks to the Charettes.


Panellists from REN21’s official COP25 side event. From left to right: Rana Adib (REN21), Oliver Lah (Urban Electric Mobility Initiative), Lea Ranalder (REN21), Haneen Shaheen (CAN – Arab World), Franziska Wehinger (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung-MENA) and Debra Roberts (IPCC). Source: REN21.

It was unexpected, but after this movie I have hope again. I realise that this story is not very different from our ‘fight’ for renewables, against fossil fuels, for the climate. And not only this story. Fighting for change, fighting against change, fighting each other, has always been part of our history. Examples where change has happened in spite of such challenges are numerous. This is what’s “normal.” And this is why we need to continue.


These ‘stories’ can inspire. They tell us that we are able to drive change and change the way we think, feel, and act. They can teach us how to be more strategic and convince many more to engage. This story also shows us that we need to continue in a different way. To drive the transition to renewable energy, we need to involve different players around the table, including our opponents, without being afraid.


In Madrid, I heard numerous times that we need new forms of collaboration, stronger integration, a different form governance. We also heard (with my special thanks to Gonzalo Muñoz, the COP25 High-Level Champion) that we are living a crisis of empathy. I suggest to add to this list exploring new ways to meet and creating spaces to design the future.


In this sense I look forward to a new year in which we all step out of our comfort zone (at least once a week) and try to slip into someone else’s point of view (even our worst opponent), just for a moment.


I look forward to share this endeavor with all of you and send you hopeful wishes for the next year.

Rana Adib
Executive Secretary, REN21

P.S. In French, “être charette” means being late or close to a deadline. What better topic could I use in my last editorial before 2020.

* Charrettes are collaborative sessions that serve as a way of quickly generating a design solution while integrating the aptitudes and interests of a diverse group of people. The general idea of a charrette is to create an innovative atmosphere in which a diverse group of stakeholders can collaborate to “generate visions for the future” (Wikipedia)

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