IRENA: Energy-related CO2 emissions could be phased-out by 2060

Adnan Amin (Photo: IRENA)

Global energy-related CO2 emissions can be reduced by 70% by 2050 and completely phased-out by 2060 with a net positive economic outlook, IRENA said in a new report.

The report titled ‘Perspectives for the Energy Transition: Investment Needs for a Low-Carbon Energy Transition’, launched today, March 20, 2017, presents the case that increased deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency in G20 countries and globally can achieve the emissions reductions needed to keep global temperature rise to no more than two-degrees Celsius, avoiding the most severe impacts of climate change.

While the overall energy investment needed for decarbonizing the energy sector comes to additional $29 trillion until 2050, it amounts to a small share (0.4%) of global GDP, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Furthermore, IRENA’s macroeconomic analysis suggests that such investment creates a stimulus that, together with other pro-growth policies will boost global GDP by 0.8% in 2050.

Also, it will generate new jobs in the renewable energy sector that would more than offset job losses in the fossil fuel industry, with further jobs being created by energy efficiency activities, and improve human welfare through important additional environmental and health benefits thanks to reduced air pollution, IRENA said.

Adnan Amin, IRENA Director-General, said: “Critically, the economic case for the energy transition has never been stronger. Today around the world, new renewable power plants are being built that will generate electricity for less cost than fossil-fuel power plants. And through 2050, the decarbonization can fuel sustainable economic growth and create more new jobs in renewables. We are in a good position to transform the global energy system but success will depend on urgent action, as delays will raise the costs of decarbonization.”

Globally, 32 gigatonnes (Gt) of energy-related CO2 were emitted in 2015, according to IRENA.

The report states that emissions will need to fall continuously to 9.5 Gt by 2050 to limit warming to no more than two degrees above pre-industrial temperatures, and that 90% of this energy CO2 emission reduction can be achieved through expanding renewable energy deployment and improving energy efficiency.

To achieve decarbonization, the report states that, by 2050, renewables should be 80% of power generation and 65% of total primary energy supply. Now, renewable energy accounts for 24% of global power generation and 16% of primary energy supply, according to IRENA.

The report also describes how the energy sector transition needs to go beyond the power sector into all end-use sectors, calling for policy efforts to create an enabling framework and re-design of energy markets.