- Doubling renewables will mitigate climate costs, Irena Says
- Hitting 36 percent renewable share would create 6 million jobs
Boosting renewable energy generation to meet global climate goals could save as much as $4.2 trillion a year by 2030, according to a new report asking lawmakers to strengthen clean energy policies.
Doubling the share of renewables in the world’s energy mix to 36 percent between now and 2030 would cost $290 billion a year and limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius, according to the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency report published Thursday. Mitigating against the harmful effects of global warming accounts for much of the savings.
Upfront costs of investing in renewables would be offset by as much as 15 times more savings because the technologies would curb fossil fuel consumption, limit climate change impacts like rising sea levels and boost energy security, according to the report.
“Achieving a doubling is not only feasible, it is cheaper than not doing so,” said Adnan Amin, director general of the 145-nation agency, called Irena, in an e-mailed statement.
Renewable energy raked in a record $329.3 billion of investment last year despite the slump in oil prices, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance and more new renewable energy is being installed each year than fossil fuels. Irena says even more work will be needed to tackle climate change effectively.
“To reach global climate and development targets, the next phase will require more focus on transport, heating and cooling,” according to Dolf Gielen, who directs Irena’s innovation and technology center. “If a doubling is achieved, these sectors would account for roughly half of renewable energy use in 2030 and so must scale-up dramatically to meet that target.”
Global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector remained at 32.1 billion tonnes in 2015 for a second year in a row, suggesting greenhouse gas pollution has peaked, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday. Renewable power played a crucial role in achieving this by accounting for 90 percent of new installed power, the IEA said.
Irena countered criticism that a shift to renewables would cost jobs in fossil fuel industries like oil and natural gas. Doubling renewable energy’s share would lead to a net increase of six million jobs and lead to sustained employment of 24.4 million people, up from 9.2 million green energy workers today.
Hitting the goals doesn’t require a doubling of renewable energy in every country, the report says. Shares vary depending on population, economic activity as well as existing energy infrastructure. The U.S. would need to increase its share of renewable energy by 15 percent while China would need to scale up by 20 percent.