Student Energy in New Delhi: CEM Senior Officials’ Meeting & MI Annual Gathering

Student Energy in New Delhi: CEM Senior Officials’ Meeting & MI Annual Gathering

From April 4-8, 2022, the CEM Senior Officials’ Meeting and MI Annual Gathering took place in New Delhi, India. Student Energy’s Director of Communications and Policy, Shakti Ramkumar, represented Student Energy at this global assembly of member countries and energy leaders – read on to learn more about her experience!

Psst!: Unfamiliar with what CEM and MI are? Click here or scroll to the bottom for a quick breakdown of the terms!

The MI Annual Gathering (April 4-6) and CEM Senior Officials’ Meeting (April 6-8) invited senior leaders from the CEM and MI member countries to evaluate progress on the initiatives’ respective workstreams, and lay the groundwork for the upcoming CEM13/MI-7 ministerial in Pittsburgh.

Event highlights:

  1. Youth Involvement in CEM and MI: I was happy to see the CEM and MI Secretariat continue to prioritize youth engagement, as young people typically aren’t engaged in the crucial preparatory sessions like this one – I was grateful to be able to represent Student Energy, and to contribute a youth perspective to discussions throughout the Senior Officials’ meeting. I also appreciated the chance to address the full audience as a speaker on a panel focusing on Inclusive Societies. Looking forward from New Delhi, we were excited to see the United States Department of Energy, this year’s host for CEM13/MI-7, propose plans for a comprehensive youth engagement program in Pittsburgh, with a goal of bringing together young people from member countries to participate in the forum.
  2. Spotlight on India: I heard from leaders working across all parts of India’s energy sector, from coal to electricity to solar, who shed light on just how challenging the energy transition is set to be in countries with an incredibly complex energy landscape like India. India is primarily reliant on coal for energy, with millions of people still without access to basic energy services – and now the country faces the added challenge of having to decarbonize rapidly and expand renewable energy, in just a few years. With India as host of next year’s CEM/MI Ministerial, this Spotlight series was an important opportunity to learn about the specific energy, technology, deployment, and finance challenges in India.

Whenever Student Energy is invited to participate in spaces where we know there may be few other young people, we believe it is our responsibility to prepare and advocate for the things we know our global youth network cares about, to make sure we make the most of these opportunities. 

Here are some of the things I advocated for in New Delhi:

  1. A lot of the discussion throughout the week centered on how member countries could be forward-thinking and bold by investing early in energy solutions that need to be developed now in order to be scaled in the future. Just like we need this type of early investment and supportive policy for technological development, we need the same bold, early investment in young people now. Mobilizing finance and tangible resources for youth-led projects, through initiatives like the Solutions Movement, are critical to accelerating the pace of the energy transition.
  2. Young people hold the key to climate and energy policies garnering widespread public support, which is necessary for the long term success of these policies and for them to outlast electoral cycles and other common barriers. However, youth need to see their priorities reflected in clean energy and climate policies, and to be equal partners in decision-making around these policies.
  3. The emerging skills gap in clean energy will be a barrier to accelerating the pace of the transition, so skill development and training must be made central priorities by governments and energy companies. However, training for clean energy jobs must also be financially and geographically accessible, so that young people and others who have historically been excluded from the sector can actually access these new opportunities.

Throughout the week, it was clear to me that even in spaces where we share a collective goal of addressing the climate crisis, there is still a need to balance many competing priorities and timelines – and there definitely isn’t always agreement about the path forward, the solutions that should be prioritized, or where resources should flow. But this complexity makes it all the more important that young people are consistently a part of these discussions, and that these discussions are made as transparent and open as possible to allow people to engage during key moments of decision-making. I’m grateful to have participated in this preparatory session, and look forward to seeing youth lead at CEM/MI in Pittsburgh later this year.

Let’s break down some terms!

CEM: The Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) is a high-level global forum and platform that aims to accelerate the transition to clean energy, share best practices, and form action coalitions between member countries. CEM is made up of 29 member countries, which together represent 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions, alongside partner organizations like the International Energy Agency, Sustainable Energy for All, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The work of CEM is largely carried out through 6 ‘Workstreams’:

  1. Power
  2. Transport
  3. Industry
  4. Buildings
  5. Cross-Sectoral
  6. Enabling Environment

MI: Mission Innovation (MI) is a global initiative of 22 countries and the European Commission that was launched alongside the Paris Agreement in 2015, with the aim of increasing investment in Research & Development for clean energy innovation. The member countries represent 90% of global public investments in clean energy innovation, and MI is an intergovernmental platform through which governments and the private sector form alliances and joint initiatives. The work of MI is carried out through 7 ‘Missions’:

  1. Green powered future
  2. Zero-emission shipping
  3. Clean hydrogen
  4. Carbon Dioxide Removal
  5. Urban Transitions
  6. Net Zero Industries
  7. Integrated Biorefineries

CEM13/MI-7: Coming up this September in Pittsburgh, USA, CEM13/MI-7 is the joint annual ministerial convening of the Clean Energy Ministerial and Mission Innovation. Each year, the energy ministers within CEM’s 29 member countries (alongside other related government ministries responsible for climate, environment, and industry) and MI’s 23 member countries gather for the joint ministerial in a different host country.

MI Annual Gathering and CEM Senior Officials’ Meeting: The event that took place in New Delhi this April 4-8 2022, is the key preparatory session and global assembly for senior leaders in the CEM and MI member governments and leaders of workstreams to evaluate progress on their work, set goals for the future of CEM and MI, and lay the groundwork for the larger ministerial this September in Pittsburgh which will be attended by energy ministers, youth, policymakers, and members of industry. Each year, this preparatory Senior Officials’ Meeting is held in the country where the next CEM/MI will be hosted – this means India is set to host CEM14/MI-8 in 2023.