Illustration (Courtesy of IRENA)

IRENA: Greater international collaboration needed to get the world on net-zero track

International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has released a new report, setting out urgent priorities to rapidly make more clean technologies the most affordable options in key sectors.

Illustration (Courtesy of IRENA)
Illustration (Courtesy of IRENA)
Illustration (Courtesy of IRENA)

The first annual Breakthrough Agenda Report, requested by 45 world leaders, delivers a progress report on the actions needed to deliver on the historic clean technology commitment by governments representing two-thirds of the global economy.

The Breakthrough Agenda, as the commitment is known, aims to align countries’ actions and coordinate investment to scale up deployment and drive down costs across five key sectors including – power, road transport, steel, hydrogen and agriculture.

The report notes an increase in practical international cooperation in recent years, and progress in deploying the technologies needed, including a forecast increase in global renewable capacity of 8% in 2022 – pushing through the 300GW mark for the first time and equivalent to powering approximately 225 million homes.

However, the report also warns that far greater international cooperation is needed to get the world on track to meet its climate commitments.

Fatih Birol, executive director at International Energy Agency (IEA), said: “We are in the midst of the first truly global energy crisis, with devastating knock-on consequences across the world economy, especially in developing countries. Only by speeding up the transition to clean sustainable energy can we achieve lasting energy security.

“Through international collaboration, we can make the transition quicker, cheaper and easier for everyone – on the back of faster innovation, greater economies of scale, bigger incentives to invest, level playing fields and benefits that are shared across all parts of society. Without this collaboration, the transition to net zero emissions will be much more challenging and could be delayed by decades.”

The report highlights that in addition to delivering urgent emissions reductions, stronger collaboration will deliver both faster and cheaper transition, while boosting jobs growth. Research from the IEA shows that without international collaboration, the transition to net-zero global emissions could be delayed by decades.

IRENA’s estimates cited by the report suggest an energy transition aligned with limiting global temperature increase to 1.5°C could create close to 85 million additional jobs by 2030 compared to 2019, more than offsetting losses of 12 million jobs.

Francesco La Camera, director-general of IRENA, added: “The Breakthrough Agenda and our joint report sends a strong signal ahead of COP27 that greater international collaboration can amplify ambition and accelerate progress. Advancing the transition to renewables is a strategic choice to bring affordable energy, jobs, economic growth and a cleaner environment to the people on the ground.”

Recommendations to accelerate progress towards net zero emissions

The Breakthrough Agenda Report represents the first assessment of priorities for strengthened collaborative action and progress so far, produced by IEA, IRENA and the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions.

The report puts forward 25 recommendations for leaders to discuss at the Global Clean Energy Action Forum and the 13th Clean Energy Ministerial to be held in United States, on September 21-23, 2022.

Some of these include demonstrating and testing flexible low-carbon power systems to expand the range of solutions and increase the share of variable renewables, and creating new cross-border supergrids this decade to increase trade in low-carbon power, reduce emissions, improve energy security and enhance system flexibility.

Also, the report advises the establishment of new international centers of expertise to channel finance and technical assistance to help coal-producing countries’ transition.

The report urges for government policies and private-sector purchase commitments to drive demand and deployment of low-carbon and renewable hydrogen alongside standards to enable global trade, as well as public and private commitments to purchase near-zero emission steel, and actions to level the playing field between steel producing nations.

The five sectors analyzed in the report together account for nearly 60% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions today, and could deliver the bulk of the emission reductions needed by 2030 in a pathway that would make a significant contribution to limiting global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C, in line with the Paris Agreement goals, the report states.

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