Kenyan based solar firm among 11 winners of UN Global Climate Action Awards

The City of Paris won the Climate Leaders category for committing to among others reduce local emissions by 100% by 2050. PHOTO/iSTOCK

By PATRICK MAYOYO

 Kenya based debt-financing solar firm SunFunder is among 11 winners of the UN Global Climate Action Awards.

SunFunder is the leading debt-financing provider for distributed solar in Africa and other emerging regions, bringing access to energy and long-term climate investments.

It has closed over USD 150 million in loans to 57 solar companies working in off-grid solar, mini-grids, agri-solar and other commercial and industrial solar projects.

These investments mitigate carbon emissions by replacing fossil fuels, and also help communities adapt to climate change by increasing resilience in local economies and food systems.

The 2021 winning activities were selected by UN Climate Change’s international Advisory Panel. The 11 award-winning projects fall within three focus areas: Climate Neutral NowFinancing for Climate Friendly Investment and Climate Leaders All winning projects will be showcased during a series of special events and an Award Ceremony during the second week of COP 26 in November.

“The winners of the 2021 UN Global Climate Action Awards provide tangible proof that solutions to tackle the climate crisis exist and that they can be replicated and quickly scaled up. This is what inspiring leadership looks like,” UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said.

Founded in 2012, it was the first mover in addressing the debt financing bottleneck faced by off-grid solar companies, and has built a team with unique market expertise and local presence.

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa. PHOTO/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

SunFunder has also devised new blended finance vehicles through a series of its own managed funds, unlocking more than USD 150 million from public and private sources.

SunFunder’s focus is now on scaling its climate impact, launching the first of its new “Gigaton” funds with an initial USD 500 million fund and target first closing in 2022.

The recipients of a special 10th anniversary edition of the United Nations Global Climate Action Awards were announced today, shining a light on innovative examples of what people across the globe are doing to combat climate change ahead of the pivotal UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow later this month.

SunFunder won in the Financing for Climate Friendly Investment category alongside Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance for its network that accelerates well-designed financial instruments that can unlock billions towards a sustainable, inclusive, net zero economy, while also reducing private investors’ risks.

Other winners in the category include Energise Africa  Africa: A UK crowdfunding platform enabling people to support renewable energy projects (home solar) in Sub-Saharan Africa. To date, it has raised over £25 million in investments from everyday people putting their money to work for climate action and the SDGs.

Self-reliance & Solar in the West Bank & Gaza from Palestine; the first private sector investments in domestic power supply to help jump-start renewables and support economic development in the West Bank and Gaza, supported by the International Finance Corporation closed the winners in this category.

Winners in the Climate Neutral category included Microsoft which has been carbon neutral since 2012, for committing to remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975 by 2050.

Taylors of Harrogate from United Kingdom, which is an independent family tea and coffee business whose carbon neutral product certification is from ‘field to supermarket shelf’ accounting for all the emissions from cultivating, processing and shipping its tea and coffee.

A worker installing solar panels on a building. PHOTO/PEXELS

ICA Gruppen from Sweden, which is the country’s leading food retailer is going beyond climate neutrality to achieving a net zero impact from the Group’s own operations by 2030 and cutting the climate impact from customers’ grocery purchases in half by 2030.

House of Baukjen from United Kingdom and a London-based fashion house whose business and operations follow in every way the circular economy ideal, from production to materials being cycled, and does so while being carbon negative.

Winners in the Climate Leaders category included City of Paris which aims to reduce local emissions by 100% by 2050, achieving the goal of zero emissions in Paris, promoting an 80% reduction in the carbon footprint of Paris compared to 2004 levels.

Samsø from Denmark’s municipality of the island of Samsø has completely transformed its energy system from fossil fuels to renewable energy, becoming the world’s first renewable energy island.

Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara in Mexico’s Climate Action Plan, launched at the end of 2020, is the first instrument of its kind, built on a metropolitan scale in Mexico and within the C40 Network.

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