Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Back Renewables to Hit Climate Goals with GDP Growth, by Andrew Lee, Recharge News, March 20, 2017

The world’s energy sector could slash carbon emissions by 70% by 2050 and eliminate them altogether a decade later – while simultaneously boosting the global economy, according to a new study from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The organisations said wider deployment of renewables and energy efficiency measures – allied with large-scale greening of sectors such as transport and buildings – could by 2050 limit warming to no more than two degrees above pre-industrial temperatures.

They estimate the decarbonisation push will need an extra $29 trillion of investment by that date, equivalent to about 0.4% of global GDP.

But the same programme would also deliver a 0.8% increase to global GDP by mid-century, with new renewable-focused jobs "more than offsetting" employment losses in fossil sectors, says the report Investment Needs for a Low-Carbon Energy Transition, which was co-financed by the German government.

By 2060 energy-related CO2 emissions could be totally eliminated, it reckons.

But the study – released to mark the start of the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue event in the German capital – warns that time is of the essence, with delay translating directly into an increase in the cost of achieving decarbonisation.

“The energy transition has long ceased to be a national project. It is a global task and a mission for all of us, as well as a way to ensure a future of prosperity and stability,” said German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel, who hosts the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue.

IRENA director-general Adnan Amin said: “The Paris Agreement reflected an unprecedented international determination to act on climate. The focus must be on the decarbonisation of the global energy system as it accounts for almost two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Critically, the economic case for the energy transition has never been stronger,” added Amin. “Today around the world, new renewable power plants are being built that will generate electricity for less cost than fossil-fuel power plants. And through 2050, the decarbonisation can fuel sustainable economic growth and create more new jobs in renewables.”

The study says emissions will need to fall to 9.5 gigatonnes of energy-related CO2 by 2050 if the twodegree target is to be met, down from 32Gt in 2015. It estimates that “90% of this energy CO2 emission reduction can be achieved through expanding renewable energy deployment and improving energy efficiency”.

Renewables need to account for 80% of power generation and 65% of primary energy supply by the middle of the century, up from 24% and 16% now.

The report also sets out a list of other advances needed, ranging from a huge expansion in electric vehicles – which need to be “the predominant car type in 2050” – to high-efficiency electric buildings becoming “the norm”.

 IEA renewable energy head Paolo Frankl told Recharge in an exclusive interview that a wide range of up-and-coming technologies will need to be deployed alongside wind and solar if global climate objectives are to be achieved.