High fossil fuel prices set pace for clean energy: IRENA

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Short-term interventions addressing the current energy crisis must be accompanied by a steadfast focus on mid- and long-term goals of the energy transition.

High fossil fuel prices, energy security concerns and the urgency of climate change underscore the pressing need to move faster to a clean energy system, says World Energy Transitions Outlook 2022.

Launched by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue on Tuesday, the agency’s Outlook sets out priority areas and actions based on available technologies that must be realised by 2030 to achieve net zero emissions by mid-century.

It also takes stock of progress across all energy uses to date, clearly showing that the current pace and scale of the renewables-based transition is inadequate.

“The energy transition is far from being on track and anything short of radical action in the coming years will diminish, even eliminate chances to meet our climate goals,” said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA.

“Today governments are facing multiple challenges of energy security, economic recovery and the affordability of energy bills for households and businesses. Many answers lie in the accelerated transition. But it’s a political choice to put policies in place that comply with Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Agenda.

“Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure will only lock-in uneconomic practices, perpetuate existing risks and increase the threats of climate change.”

“It is high time to act,” La Camera added.

“Recent developments have clearly demonstrated that high fossil fuel prices can result in energy poverty and loss of industrial competitiveness. Eighty per cent of the global population lives in countries that are net-importers of fossil fuels.

“By contrast, renewables are available in all countries, offering a way out of import dependency and allowing countries to decouple economies from the costs of fossil fuels while driving economic growth and new jobs.”

The Outlook sees investment needs of $5.7 trillion per year until 2030, including the imperative to redirect $0.7 trillion annually away from fossil fuels to avoid stranded assets.

But investing in the transition would bring concrete socioeconomic and welfare benefits, adding 85 million jobs worldwide in renewables and other transition-related technologies between today and 2030.

These job gains would largely surpass losses of 12 million jobs in fossil fuel industries. Overall, more countries would experience greater benefits on the energy transition path than under business as usual, according to the Outlook.

Renewables would have to scale-up massively across all sectors from 14 per cent of total energy today to around 40 per cent in 2030.

Global annual additions of renewable power would triple by 2030 as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

At the same time, coal power would have to resolutely be replaced, fossil fuel assets phased out and infrastructure upgraded.

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