Green coronavirus recovery could deliver nearly $100trn

20th April 2020


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Author

Elizabeth Lippett

The global economy could enjoy a boost of nearly $100trn ($80trn) if governments drastically scale-up investments in renewable energy following the coronavirus crisis.

That is according to a report published today by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which said that an energy transformation based on renewables could deliver gains above business-as-usual of $98trn by 2050.

Its proposals would also nearly quadruple renewable energy jobs to 42 million, expand employment in energy efficiency to 21 million and add 15 million in system flexibility.

IRENA director-general Francesco La Camera said that the COVID-19 crisis has exposed “deeply embedded vulnerabilities“ in the energy system, and that short-term recovery efforts must align with the medium-and long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement.

“Governments are facing a difficult task of bringing the health emergency under control while introducing major stimulus and recovery measures,“ he continued.

“By accelerating renewables and making the energy transition an integral part of the wider recovery, governments can achieve multiple economic and social objectives in the pursuit of a resilient future that leaves nobody behind.“

IRENA's report explores the investment strategies and policies needed to manage an energy system transition, cutting CO2 emissions by at least 70% by 2050, and providing a path towards net zero.

It states that certain innovations, particularly green hydrogen and extended end-use electrification, could help replace fossil fuels and slash emissions in heavy industry and hard-to-decarbonise sectors.

Full carbon neutrality would require energy investments of $130trn, according to the report, but the savings would be eight times more than costs when accounting for reduced health and environmental impacts.

IRENA said that Southeast Asia, Latin America, the EU and Sub-Saharan Africa are poised to reach 70-80% renewable energy shares in their total energy mixes by 2050.

However, it warned that stronger coordination on international, regional and domestic levels would be key, with financial support being directed where needed, including to the most vulnerable countries and communities.

“As partner of the Climate Investment Platform, launched to drive clean energy uptake and mobilise clean investment, IRENA will advance collaborative action targeted to help countries create enabling conditions and unlock renewable investment,“ IRENA said.

Image credit: iStock

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