Doubling today’s share of renewable energy would help the world meet its bold climate goals agreed in Paris – while avoiding up to 12 gigatons of CO2, creating more than 24 million jobs, saving 4 million lives a year and boosting global GDP up to US$1.3 trillion.
The findings, published today in the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report ‘REmap: Roadmap for A Renewable Energy Future’, build on a January study that highlighted how investing in low carbon energy is beneficial for the economy and the planet.
“Achieving a doubling is not only feasible, it is cheaper than not doing so,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “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.”
RE100 aims to spur the renewables transition.
“Many companies are switching to renewable power at a remarkable rate, and encouraging their suppliers and customers to do the same,” says Emily Farnworth, RE100 Campaign Director.
“Our analysis of the private sector’s electricity consumption and carbon emissions indicated that a switch to power from renewable sources could cut global CO2 by nearly 15%. By acting together, the world’s leading companies are creating a thriving renewable energy market that will help keep a global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.”
Global investors already understand the importance of focusing on renewables to protect their long-term assets. Clean investment attracted a record US$329 billion last year – about six times the amount invested in 2004 – as a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows.
However, to achieve the IRENA target of doubling renewables, additional investments of US$100 billion per year are needed, including avoided investments in the fossil fuel industry.
Recent growth in renewables could keep the world on track for this target. 2015 was a record-breaking year for renewable energy capacity installations, with 64 gigawatts (GW) of wind and 57 GW of solar photovoltaic commissioned during the year – an increase of nearly 30% over the previous year.
Solar is also projected to be the cheapest source of energy in the next 10 years, thanks to continuously falling prices, led by China. While the country is the biggest polluter to date, it is also the world’s biggest investor in clean energy with more than US$110 billion invested last year. In 2015, China also hit a new record for wind capacity, adding almost 33 GW to hit a total of 120 GW, according to state data.
“The age of renewable energy is here, but without concerted efforts, its potential will not be reached fast enough to meet international climate and development targets,” said Mr. Amin. “For decision makers in the public and private sectors alike, this roadmap sends an alert – both on the opportunities at hand and on the costs of not taking them.”
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