IRENA: Doubling renewable energy by 2030 will put world on track for Paris goals

An international accelerated push to double the share of renewables in the global energy mix by 2030 would lead to annual savings of $4.2trn and limit temperature rise to the crucial 2C target established at the Paris climate change conference, new research has claimed.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) published its REmap report yesterday (16 March), suggesting that doubling renewable generation in the energy mix from 18% to 36% by 2030 would create substantial economic benefits that outweigh the implementation costs 15 times over. (Scroll down for full report).

“Achieving a doubling is not only feasible, it is cheaper than not doing so,” IRENA’s director-general Adnan Z. Amin said. “REmap shows this is not only the most economic pathway, but also the most socially and environmentally conscious. It would create more jobs, save millions of lives from reduced air pollution and set us on a pathway to limit global temperature rise to two degrees as agreed in Paris.”

Under existing national plans, the global renewables share would only reach 21% over the next 15 years, at the cost of nearly $770bn annually. However, IRENA states that accelerating efforts to increase the renewables mix would create monumental financial and social benefits.

Key findings from the report state that the doubling of renewables would avoid up to 12 gigatonnes of CO2 emission by 2030 – five times more than the combined energy emission reductions pledged by countries. The REmap report states that this would limit average global temperature rise to the 2C target established during the historic climate talks in Paris.

As well as creating an annual $4trn boost to the economy, the doubling of renewables would also create more than 24 million jobs in the sector – compared to 9.2 million in 2014. The reduction in air pollution – an issue that is crippling the UK – would also save up to four millions lives each year.

Action areas

In order to achieve this goal and reap the subsequent benefits, the report identifies five action areas which should be addressed. Market distortions such as subsidies should be remedied to create a ‘level playing field’, while energy systems need to become more flexible to accommodate for the variable nature of solar and wind.

The report also suggests developing renewable solutions for heating and cooling in new urban developments, while the ongoing electrification of transport systems should be accelerated and modified to include biofuels. Finally the report calls for a sustainable supply of bioenergy feedstocks – an issue recently highlighted by Coca-Cola.

IRENA’s director of innovation and technology Dolf Gielen added: “The energy transition is well underway in the power sector, but to reach global climate and development targets, the next phase will require more focus on transport, heating and cooling. 

“If a doubling is achieved, these sectors would account for roughly half of renewable energy use in 2030 and so must scale-up dramatically to meet that target.”

The findings follow on from an International Energy Agency (IEA) report from earlier in the week, which revealed that global emissions from energy had stalled for the second year running, marking the first time that a growth in the economy had been decoupled from an emissions increase.

IRENA REmap 2016

Matt Mace

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