Achievement of climate targets by 2050 depends on actions to be taken by the end of this decade, according to a new report presented by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) at the COP27 summit in Egypt. The organization points out the untapped potential of renewable energy is big enough and that it is necessary to double the target for global renewable energy capacity for 2030 to 10.8 TW to achieve climate goals.
Recent geopolitical and climate-related developments point to the need for immediate action to increase ambition for renewable energy deployment to achieve climate goals and increase energy security, IRENA notes.
The report presented by IRENA at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 assesses the gap between global targets for renewable energy sources in the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and the global climate targets needed to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. That is, between planned investments and required investments.
The analysis compares the commitments and ambitions made by the governments regarding the increase in capacity from renewable sources and climate targets set by the scientific community on the necessary reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming.
The results show that the planet will warm to 2.4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century if the course does not diverge. But the report provides a sobering view of what needs to be done, according to IRENA’s report.
Aligning renewable energy plan with climate objectives
The overall ambitions for the energy transition are still insufficient, notes Kelly Rigg, a consultant at this international agency. Energy is responsible for almost 75% of all greenhouse gas emissions, so an urgent transition to a renewable energy system is essential to tackling the climate crisis, Rigg said.
Renewable energy sources are currently the most affordable option for new energy capacities. The average price of new solar photovoltaic and onshore wind farms is now lower than the cost of operating many existing coal-fired power plants, according to the agency.
IRENA urged global leaders to bridge the gap in the application of renewable energy, stressing that they are the backbone of the energy transition and a sustainable climate solution.
However, out of the 183 signatories to the Paris Agreement, 143 countries made targets for renewable energy production (Nationally determined commitments -NDCs), and only 12 countries committed to a percentage of renewables in their overall energy mixes.
IRENA states that renewable sources offer an easily achievable solution to the climate, but that requires urgent action. Counties must adopt more ambitious binding targets to reach the potential of green energy production.
Any short-term backlog in the energy transition further reduces the chance of the temperature increase is limited to 1.5 degrees
Agency Director General IRENA Francesco La Camera states that, despite some progress, the energy transition is far from on track. He notes that any short-term backlog in the energy transition further reduces the chance of a temperature increase to 1.5 degrees. Achieving climate goals by 2050 will depend on what will be done by the end of this decade.
IRENA states that the objectives are achievable.
IRENA’s new analysis finds that world countries aspire to raise the total capacity from renewable sources to 5.4 TW by 2030.
However, this would be only half of the 10.8 TW of installed capacity needed that IRENA’s scenario requires to achieve climate goals and to keep global warming up to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
To achieve net zero, the targeted renewable power capacity by 2030 would have to double compared to the level of ambition in current targets, according to IRENA.
The climate goal is “readily achievable” because the current targets for renewable energy growth lag behind the results achieved and new installed capacity in the last two years, IRENA’s report finds.
To achieve the current renewable targets, the global community should increase its total capacities by 2.3 TW, equivalent to average yearly additions of 259 until 2030.
This is below the installed capacity of renewable energy sources achieved in the last two years, despite all the complications resulting from the pandemic and consequent supply chain disruptions. IRENA points out that the world added almost 261 GW annually in 2020 and 2021. Continuing at this pace, a scenario of 10.8 TW by the end of the decade could be achieved.
Global distribution of renewable energy sources
The projected development of green energy by 2030 remains concentrated in several worlds regions. Half of the global targeted capacity goes to Asia, followed by Europe and North America.
The Middle East and North Africa participate in global deployment targets for 2030 with only 3%, despite the region’s high potential, and 2% is attributed to Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to existing projections, the G20, the group of the largest and fastest developing economies, will have almost 90% of the 5.4 TW planned for 2030.
This analysis is based on the recently published UN climate change report, which shows that climate plans remain insufficient to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
When the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015, the so-called nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and guarantees of the signatory states were not enough to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees, the consultant Rigg said. The governments of the signatory states have agreed that their climate pledges will be updated and strengthened five years after the agreement. It is about time to do it, and a new round of government pledges should follow.