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IRENA puts energy transition at heart of sustainable recovery agenda

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The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has published a report finding that governments can balance immediate economic stimulus needs with medium to long-term decarbonization and sustainable development targets by focusing policy decisions and public expenditure towards energy transformation.

Post-COVID recovery:  An agenda for resilience, development and equality outlines instant stimulation actions for the next three years (2021-2023) as well as initiatives for a mid-term recovery perspective for 2030 over the next decade.

This offers governments concrete perspectives and suggestions as they guide expenditure and policy decisions for post-COVID-19 economies.

The report indicates that scaling up public and private energy consumption to $4.5 trillion annually on an annual basis will improve the global economy by an additional 1.3 percent, generating 19 million new energy-transition jobs by 2030. Renewable jobs alone could triple to 30 million by 2030.

Each million dollars invested in renewables will generate 3-fold more employment than fossil fuels.

“Renewables have proven to be the most resilient energy sources throughout the current crisis. This evidence should allow governments to take immediate investment decisions and policy responses to overcome the crisis. With today’s recovery plan for governments, IRENA uses its global mandate on energy transitions to inform decision-making at this critical time, while staying on course toward a fully decarbonized system by 2050.”

Francesco La Camera, director-general of IRENA.

Doubling yearly transition investments to $2 trillion over the next three years can provide an effective stimulus and can leverage investment from the private sector by a factor of 3-4. Immediate priorities must be reforming fossil fuel prices, withdrawing fossil fuel assets, driving green financing and bailouts and investing strategically in the energy transition.

The $2 trillion invested annually could raise GDP by 1 percent and in three years generate additional 5.5 million transition-related jobs. Empowerment of local capacities and skills and the creation of industries and jobs across the value chain require underpinning labor and industrial policies.

Any recovery plan will include creative approaches and new technologies such as green hydrogen with the ability to offer a net zero energy system.

Renewable energy generation would be the backbone of future energy markets, backed by transition-related industries such as battery storage. But renewable heating and cooling along with energy efficiency also need to be increased.

Renewable transport scans broaden with support for electric vehicles (EVs) and increased investment in infrastructure (including smart grids and charging stations for electric vehicles), as well as emerging fuel solutions.

“Now is the time to invest in a better future. Government policies and investment choices can create the necessary momentum to enact systemic change and deliver the energy transformation away from fossil fuels. Driving a structural shift towards cleaner energy systems and more resilient economies and societies is more urgent than ever. Most of all, this is a global agenda, and we must leave no one behind.”

Francesco La Camera, director-general of IRENA.
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