The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says that a continued focus on decarbonisation will help governments to support economic development in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
In its first ‘Global Renewables Outlook’ report, IRENA says that decarbonisation of the energy system will support short-term economic recovery while creating resilient and inclusive economies and societies. Socio-economic gains of renewable energy investment “would be massive”, IRENA says, with welfare improvements, GDP gains and millions of jobs created by 2050.
“Governments are facing a difficult task of bringing the health emergency under control while introducing major stimulus and recovery measures,” said IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera. “The crisis has exposed deeply embedded vulnerabilities of the current system.
“IRENA’s Outlook shows the ways to build more sustainable, equitable and resilient economies by aligning short-term recovery efforts with the medium-and long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Agenda.”
The Global Renewables Outlook report examines building blocks of an energy system along with investment strategies and policy frameworks needed to manage the transition. It explores ways to cut global CO2 emissions by at least 70 per cent by 2050. Furthermore, a new perspective on deeper decarbonisation shows a path towards net-zero and zero emissions. Building on five technology pillars, particularly green hydrogen and extended end-use electrification could help replace fossil-fuels and slash emissions in heavy industry and hard-to-decarbonise sectors.
Low-carbon investment would significantly pay off, the Outlook shows, with savings eight times more than costs when accounting for reduced health and environmental externalities. A climate-safe path would require cumulative energy investments of $110 trillion by 2050 but achieving full carbon neutrality would add another $20 trillion.
Raising regional and country-level ambitions will be crucial to meet interlinked energy and climate objectives and harvest socio-economic welfare, IRENA said. Stronger coordination on international, regional and domestic levels will be equally important, the Outlook concludes, with financial support being directed where needed including to the most vulnerable countries and communities.
“By accelerating renewables and making the energy transition an integral part of the wider recovery, governments can achieve multiple economic and social objectives in the pursuit of a resilient future that leaves nobody behind,” said La Camera.