IRENA’s world energy transitions outlook asks major economies accounting for global CO2 emissions to fast-track energy transitions
March 19, 2021937 views0 comments
· Outlines global strategies towards carbon-neutrality to climate-safe 1.5°C pathway by 2050
· Says energy transitions investment to increase by 30% to $131trn now and 2050, corresponding to $4.4trn yearly average
· Socioeconomic benefits of investing in transition to create three times more jobs than fossil fuels
· IRENA’s 1.5°C pathway sees a trebling of global power dominated by renewables in 2050
Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
As the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) world energy transitions outlook has outlined global strategies towards achieving carbon-neutrality that will lead the way to a climate-safe 1.5°C pathway by 2050, it says proven technologies for a net-zero energy system already largely exist today.
According to IRENA’s preview of world energy transitions outlook, “renewable power, green hydrogen and modern bioenergy will dominate the world of energy of the future.”
At the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, IRENA’s outlook proposes energy transitions solutions for the narrow pathway available to contain the rise of temperature to 1.5°C and halt the irreversible global warming.
The dialogue said, 90 per cent of all decarbonisation solutions in 2050 will involve renewable energy through direct supply of low-cost power, efficiency, renewable-powered electrification in end-use, as well as green hydrogen.
“Carbon capture and removal technologies in combination with bioenergy will deliver the ‘last mile’ CO2 reductions towards a net-zero energy system,” the IRENA world energy transition outlook said.
It said, with 2030 deadlines around the corner, this outlook comes at a critical time when acting fast and bold on global climate pledges is crucial in the decisive year of UN High-Level Dialogue on Energy and Glasgow Climate Conference COP26.
Francesco La Camera, director-general of IRENA said: “The window of opportunity to achieve the 1.5°C Paris Agreement goal is closing fast. The recent trends show that the gap between where we are and where we should be is not decreasing, but widening. We are heading in the wrong direction. The World Energy Transitions Outlook considers options of the narrow pathway we have to be in line with the 1.5°C goal. We need a drastic acceleration of energy transitions to make a meaningful turnaround. Time will be the most important variable to measure our efforts.”
La Camera added that, “While the pathway is daunting, several favourable elements can make it achievable.”
The IRENA director-general said: “Major economies accounting for over half of global CO2 emissions are turning carbon neutral. Global capital is moving too. We see financial markets and investors shifting capital into sustainable assets. Covid-19 has highlighted the cost of tying economies to fossil fuels, and confirmed the resilience of renewable energy. As governments pump huge sums in bailouts and recovery, investment must support energy transition. It is time to act, and countries can lead the way with policies for a climate-safe, prosperous and just energy system fit for the 21st century.”
IRENA’s “1.5°C pathway” sees a trebling of global power dominated by renewables in 2050. It also sees a decline in fossil fuel use by more than 75% over the same time, with oil and coal consumption shrinking fastest. Natural gas should peak around 2025, becoming the largest remaining fossil fuel by 2050.
Meanwhile, the financial markets are already reflecting this shift by allocating capital away from fossil fuels and into sustainable assets like renewables. The downgrading of fossil fuels continues, with shares of fossil‑fuel-heavy energy sector in S&P index falling from 13 per cent a decade ago to below 3 per cent today.
In contrast, investors are flooding money into renewable energy stock with S&P clean energy up by 138 per cent in 2020.
IRENA’s Outlook shows however, that significant investment will have to be redirected. Major economies have announced economic stimulus packages that will pump approximately $4.6 trillion directly into carbon-relevant sectors such as agriculture, industry, waste, energy and transport; but less than $1.8 trillion is green.
IRENA says, by contrast, energy transition investment will have to increase by 30 per cent over planned investment to a total of $131 trillion between now and 2050, corresponding to $4.4 trillion on average every year.
The world renewable energy agency said the socioeconomic benefits of investing in energy transitions will be massive as more jobs close to three times than fossil fuels will be created, for each million dollars of spending. To address concerns about a fair and just transition, IRENA’s outlook has called for a holistic and consistent overall policy framework.
IRENA’s “1.5°C pathway” sees electricity becoming the main energy carrier in 2050 with renewable power capacity expanding more than ten-fold over the same period. Transport will see the highest growth of electrification with a 30-fold increase. Almost 70 per cent of carbon emission reductions in transport will come from direct and indirect electrification.
It also said, green hydrogen will emerge as one of the major demand for electricity, representing 30 per cent of total consumption in 2050. Bioenergy combined with carbon removal technologies (BECCS) will increasingly be important for industry to bring “negative emissions” in face of a limited carbon budget for 1.5C.
IRENA is the lead intergovernmental agency for the global energy transformation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international co-operation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy. With 163 members (162 states and the European Union) and 21 additional countries in the accession process and actively engaged, IRENA promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity.