The organisation was founded in 2008 as Sandbag to reform the EU carbon market, and then advance the European coal phase-out. In 2020 we re-launched as Ember, marking our new focus on accelerating the global electricity transition.
The spark that became Ember
Ember’s roots go back to 2008, when Baroness Bryony Worthington saw the desperate need to shine a light on the malfunctioning EU carbon market.
Founded as Sandbag Climate Campaign to achieve real action on climate change, we set up the ‘Destroy Carbon’ campaign to enable the public to buy and remove surplus carbon allowances from the EU Emissions Trading System. However, we soon realised that huge surpluses were not something that could be solved by individuals, but needed policy change. We saw an opportunity in the vast amount of data that the carbon market was collecting from 11,000 power stations and factories across Europe. We quickly transitioned into data-driven policy advocacy to address these systemic issues. We helped achieve real policy reform that took the EU carbon price from €2 to €30, which has meaningfully reduced emissions in the power sector and is beginning to have an impact on industry too.
In 2014, we published a report on Europe’s failure to tackle coal and in the years that followed advocated and shared lessons on the ending of coal power in Europe, as a founding member of Europe Beyond Coal. In 2018, we won a crucial 550gCO2/kWh emissions limit and new legislation to reduce power plant air pollution in Europe following a major modelling project.
With increasing success in achieving real policy change to cut coal and emissions in the EU, we realised we could replicate our model around the world.
Launching Ember in 2020
In March 2020, we re-branded as Ember, marking our new global reach and our laser focus on accelerating the electricity transition from coal to clean electricity. We chose Ember because we think it evokes the dying age of coal, but also the start of something new, as we move into a future where everyone has access to clean electricity.
We brought the Sandbag ethos with us. We’re driven by evidence, not ideology and we are using our data and analysis to find the tipping points in new energy & climate policies.
We bring together a team of experts from around the world who understand the energy system, are passionate about evidence-led policy change and are committed to tackling the climate crisis.
Evolving energy, evolving Ember
In the first years since our launch, we established policy teams across Europe and Asia, with dedicated support from our data, comms and operations teams. We launched our first annual Global Electricity Review in 2020, and continue to curate the world’s best open dataset on global electricity generation.
As our work on coal power continued, we identified that methane emissions from coal mining were being overlooked and established a dedicated team working to shine a spotlight on this issue. We also witnessed the rapid acceleration in solar and wind globally as costs continue to fall, and we began to see the huge potential for rapid roll-out of renewables to replace fossil fuels not only in the electricity system, but across the whole economy.
As such, Ember embarks on new work in 2024 to open up more data on electrification, and release new insights to ensure policymakers are excited by the enormous opportunity ahead.
Our vision: a world with a safe climate, powered by a clean, electrified energy system for all.
A new separate legal entity was set up in Belgium to continue the work to improve the EUETS and help industry to decarbonise.