An accelerated transition to renewable energy could limit the global temperature rise to below 2°C, says the International Renewable Energy Agency.
The energy emission reductions that would stem from a transition to renewable energy technologies, coupled with energy efficiency improvements, “must be at the heart of any effort to limit global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius” says the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) on the release of its newest report, REthinking Energy 2015.
In fact, according to the report, if globally renewable energy accounted for 36% of the energy mix by 2030, then half the emission reductions needed to limit warming to 2°C would already be met.
“The energy sector accounts for more than two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore must be the focus of climate action,” said Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA Director-General. “Transitioning rapidly to a future fuelled by renewable energy, accompanied by increasing energy efficiency, is the most effective way to limit global temperature rise. This transition is underway but it must be accelerated if we are to limit global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius.”
The role of renewable energy in emissions reductions is not a surprise to any who have paid much attention, but the scale to which a transition to renewable energy is nevertheless impressive. As seen below, the REmap 2030 scenario put forward by IRENA against the Reference Case would see 8.6 Gt of emissions reduced per year — add in another 7.3 Gt with energy efficiency improvements, and the emissions reductions are well on their way to being what we need to limit catastrophic global warming.
Carbon-Dioxide Emissions under REmap 2030
And, with the UN climate negotiations mere days away, one hopes that the renewable energy transition and energy efficiency improvements will be high on the discussion list for world leaders as they gather together in Paris.
“The strong business case for renewable energy has made the energy transition inevitable,” said Mr. Amin. “It is now not a question of if the world ultimately transitions to a renewable energy future, but rather whether it will do so quickly enough. At the upcoming climate talks in Paris, it will be up to countries to commit to strong targets, and in turn, give a strong political signal to catalyse further investments in renewable energy.”
The full report, REthinking Energy: Renewable Energy and Climate Change, is available here.