A new campaign calling for urgent investment in hydropower to combat climate change, accelerate progress towards net zero and strengthen energy security is being spearheaded by the International Hydropower Association (IHA)

The campaign – to run under the slogan We can, with hydropower – will see the participation of a coalition of organisations and associations from around the world. It will highlight how a pathway to net zero and greater energy resilience is possible by harnessing sustainable hydropower as a complement to variable renewables such as wind and solar.

The campaign comes after world leaders at COP26, the United Nations climate change conference, committed to “phase down coal” and accelerate the shift towards renewables. While the Glasgow Climate Pact was welcome, governments have not made sufficient progress in planning for the transition.

Commitments now need to be translated into policies, investments and tangible action ahead of COP27 in Egypt this November. The new campaign will shine a light on hydropower’s benefits and advance solutions for building a sustainable and secure energy future.

“We cannot afford any more delays in taking action to shift away from fossil fuels like coal,” commented Eddie Rich, Chief Executive for IHA. “With hydropower, we have a proven, clean technology that can supercharge the deployment of renewable energy systems and set us on the pathway towards net zero.

“By combining the strengths of wind, solar and hydropower, we can rapidly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and bring stability and security to energy grids. Wind and solar energy can be stored in water, and then released quickly whenever we need it.

“Hydropower generates electricity all year round and has low running costs, providing affordable energy for communities over the long term. But projects can take up to a decade to build and require significant upfront investment. If we do not act now, then we will miss our opportunity to set a realistic course for net zero by 2050.”

Leading voices joining the call for action include former Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull, former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark, Swiss Secretary of State for Energy Benoît Revaz, and sustainability pioneer Dr Ashok Khosla. 

Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Malcolm Turnbull said: “We are at risk of stalling on the progress made at COP26. It will not be possible to deliver on our climate goals unless we start talking seriously about hydropower's role in strengthening renewable energy systems.”

Helen Clark added: “At COP26 we saw positive progress with further commitments to shift away from fossil fuels. But it is meaningless unless we take action now and invest in clean energy. Sustainable hydropower will play a key role in bringing more renewables onto the grid as we move away from coal.”