Energy systems are the engine of economic and social development. Energy is essential to practically all aspects of human welfare – access to water, agricultural productivity, health care, education, job creation, environmental sustainability and more. Energy investments represent a sizeable portion of Gross Domestic Product but, at the same time, energy sector emissions account for the largest share of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

International efforts to limit temperature rise under the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2015, UNFCCC) are expected to significantly increase countries’ ambitions for clean, resilient, efficient and widely accessible energy systems. Climate, weather and water information supports the development and optimal use of renewable energy resources such as hydro, wind, solar and bio power. Such information also underpins the routine operation and risk management of nuclear power plants, coal power plants and other forms of energy production. WMO facilitates data exchange that can help energy developers and managers better plan for changes in energy demand, the development of local energy systems and compliance with environmental requirements. 

Most humans are comfortable in a relatively narrow temperature range from about 15°C to 25°C. This comfort zone is reflected in the energy usage patterns of cities. When air temperatures move outside this range, energy demand increases for both heating and cooling needs. The degree-day is a useful statistic that has been developed to assist the monitoring of energy usage and prediction. The degree-days can be either the accumulated departures of daytime temperature below a specified threshold (the heating degree-days) or above a specified threshold (the cooling degree-days). Thus, if a winter is milder than normal there are fewer heating degree-days and less demand for energy for home and office heating and vice versa. Energy distribution companies use the link between climate variability and energy demand for power supply planning and energy efficiency. 

A major challenge for managers of hydroelectric facilities is to match energy generation to seasonal and long-term water supplies, and often to competing water demands for urban and irrigation needs. During periods of drought, the demand for electricity has to be balanced against the need to conserve scarce water supplies. Long climatic records on the year-to-year variability and the duration and intensity of past drought events are essential to the design process and are crucially important in the effective operation of reservoirs.

Decarbonisation of the energy sector requires an accelerated uptake worldwide of weather/climate-dependent renewable energy generation, particularly for wind and solar which are already increasing their market share of the renewable energy sector each year. Further integration of more renewable energy requires the use of weather and climate information for optimally balanced energy production and demand patterns. Specific climate services are being developed towards this goal. This includes a set of climate-based tools for assessing the adequacy of future energy distribution in line with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Energy systems are the engine of economic and social development. Their investments represent a sizeable portion of a country’s GDP. Indeed, energy is essential to practically all aspects of human welfare, including access to water, agricultural productivity, health care, education, job creation and environmental sustainability.

This paper briefly explores the climate change mitigation benefits from the goals of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. In doing so, it relies on the analytical work and scenarios of the forthcoming Global Energy Assessment.