The global energy system is undergoing rapid transformation. With the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement serving as inspiration, countries, cities, and corporations all over the world continue to take meaningful action on renewable energy development.
While a pressing need to increase momentum exists, 2019 has been a year of bold ambition and remarkable achievements.
The Global Renewables Outlook shows the path to create a sustainable future energy system. This report highlights climate-safe investment options until 2050, the policy framework needed for the transition and the challenges faced by different regions.
Raising regional and country-level ambitions will be crucial to meet interlinked energy and climate objectives. The report presents findings on the specific transition prospects for 10 regions around the world. Comprehensive policies could tackle energy and climate goals alongside socio-economic challenges, fostering the transformative decarbonization of societies.
Other findings include:
- Energy-related CO2 emissions have risen by 1% per year on average since 2010. While the health crisis and oil price slump may suppress emissions in 2020, a rebound would restore the long-term trend.
- The transition to renewables, efficiency and electrification can drive broad socio-economic development. The outlook’s Transforming Energy Scenario aligns energy investments with the need keep global warming ‘well below 2oC’, in line with the Paris Agreement.
- The last portion of CO2 emissions will be the hardest and most expensive to eliminate. The Outlook’s Deeper Decarbonization Perspective highlights the need for innovative technologies, business models and behavioral adaptation to reach zero emissions.
- Decarbonizing energy use in time to avert catastrophic climate change requires intensified international cooperation. With the need for emission reductions unchanged, clean energy investments can safeguard against short-sighted decisions and the accumulation of stranded assets.
- Recovery measures following the COVID-19 pandemic could include flexible power grids, efficiency solutions, electric vehicle charging, energy storage, interconnected hydropower, green hydrogen and other technology investments consistent with long-term energy and climate sustainability.
Ensuring that global temperatures stop rising will require that, by the second half of this century, emissions eventually reach zero, or net-zero. Carbon dioxide emissions represent three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions with energy-related CO2 (combustion of fossil fuels) and industrial process emissions making up over 80% of CO2 emissions and the remainder coming from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF).
Efforts are therefore needed across the energy, industrial and land-use sectors to reduce emissions. Significant efforts are needed in certain sectors, such as in industry and transport, that are sometimes referred to as ‘hard-to-decarbonize’ or ‘hard-to-abate’ sectors.
Enabling policies to ensure that the energy transition is implemented in ways that are broadly beneficial and that avoid or minimize dislocations for individuals, communities, countries, and regions.
The global energy transition requires an unprecedented mobilization of financial resources, driven by the unwavering commitment of governments, the private sector , and civil society. Governments must adopt a wide array of policies to strengthen public resolve and ensure that no one is left behind.
As the massive financial resources mobilized to counter the 2008 economic crisis demonstrated, countries and societies are collectively capable of such ambitious undertakings. The uncharted territory of COVID-19 and its aftermath presents now another test of our shared resolve for a better future.
The energy transition is playing out in the context of intricate interactions of the energy system with the wider economy and the natural environment. The associated socioeconomic results analyzed at the global level and regional level, provide essential insights for transition planning and policy making.
The specifics will vary from country to country, but a comprehensive package will have to include a broad mix of policies and interventions, including deployment and integrating policies and a set of closely connected enabling policies.