If policymakers, businesses and investors across the world collaborate to scale-up renewable energy and to electrify sectors such as transport and heavy industry, 86% of the global power demand could be met with clean energy by 2050, new research from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has found.
IRENA’s new report, entitled “Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050”, states that spurring the renewables revolution and using clean power to electrify carbon-intense technologies and sectors could deliver more than three quarters of the energy-related emission reductions needed to meet global climate goals by mid-century.
The report bases this finding on IRENA’s “Remap Case” scenario, which would require all stakeholders in the global energy system to align themselves with the Paris Agreement’s 2C trajectory as soon as possible, with a specific focus on the deployment of renewable power and energy efficiency technologies. In this scenario, IRENA claims that renewables’ overall share of the energy mix would grow six times faster than current rates, leading annual global energy-related CO2 emissions to peak in 2020 and decrease by 90% by 2050, against a 2018 baseline.
Specifically, the body recommends that policymakers should implement “more aggressive” climate, renewable energy and energy efficiency policies and targets which are aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) agenda and therefore also incorporate socio-economic benefits. Zero-carbon, long-term strategies will be the most effective, the report states.
The document additionally states that governments are not doing enough to enable “systemic and holistic innovation” in the energy sector, by aligning policies with funding measures and other support for the private sector. Key focus areas for this agenda should be fostering smarter energy systems through digitalisation and uniting end-use sectors such as heating, cooling and transport to spur the creation of low-carbon power grids.
“The energy transformation is gaining momentum, but it must accelerate even faster,” IRENA’s director-general Francesco La Camera said.
“Urgent action on the ground at all levels is vital, in particular unlocking the investments needed to further strengthen the momentum of this energy transformation. Speed and forward-looking leadership will be critical – the world in 2050 depends on the energy decisions we take today. The UN’s 2030 SDG agenda and the review of national climate pledges under the Paris Agreement are milestones for raising the level of ambition.”