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Renewables + electrification can get us most of the way to decarbonization | Our Daily Planet

Photo: Evergreen solar

The only path that will allow us to drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions will involve the mass deployment of renewable energy resources. While some don’t believe that this is achievable, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), renewables and electrification alone can achieve 75% of global emissions reductions goals. The latest edition of IRENA’s Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050, which was released this week at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, revealed that pathways to meet 86% of global power demand by 2050 with renewable energy exist.

As Greentech Media explained:

  • The primary drivers for this increased electricity demand would come from a billion electric vehicles, as well as an increase in the use of electrical heating and the emergence of renewable hydrogen.
  • Solar PV and wind will make up most of the capacity
  • Following IRENA’s roadmap would also save between $65 trillion and $160 trillion worldwide over the next 30 years, said the agency, with savings coming from the avoidance of negative health impacts, climate damages, and $10 trillion in energy subsidies.
  • IRENA estimated the level of additional investments needed to achieve its low-carbon roadmap would be around $15 trillion by 2050.

IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera said in a press statement, “The race to secure a climate safe future has entered a decisive phase. Renewable energy is the most effective and readily-available solution for reversing the trend of rising CO2 emissions. A combination of renewable energy with a deeper electrification can achieve 75 percent of the energy-related emission reduction needed.”

Why This Matters: The IRENA report warned that emissions would need to decline by 70% below their current level by 2050 to meet global climate goals. This calls for a significant increase in national ambition and more aggressive renewable energy and climate targets. And while this will take a significant investment, every dollar spent on the energy transition would pay off up to seven times by 2050. In addition to this, this investment would see a 2.5% improvement in GDP and a 0.2% increase in global employment, compared to business as usual. Not only would we save money but we would also lower human healthcare costs, help with energy affordability, and ensure that we avoid the worst ramifications of climate change.


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