Renewables can boost employment while also generating savings of up to $160 trillion over the next 30 years.
Intense electrification combined with a global transition to renewables by 2050 hold the key to a sustainable energy future, according to the second Global Energy Transformation roadmap published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Despite comprising over half of the newly installed energy capacities, renewables should expand six times faster to make Paris climate goals into reality. The good news is that such a transition combined with a global improvement in energy efficiency can deliver around 90% of the necessary change. Together with other changes, such as transitions to the circular economy and natural climate solutions, we can even top that goal.
The report, which also comes with a user-friendly graphical overview of key insights, suggests that electricity should shift from 20% to over 50% in the global energy mix, including 70% electrification of transport, 58% of the building sector and 38% of the industry. EVs too will need to spread, with over 1 billion electric vehicles expected on roads worldwide by 2050. Not all sustainability advocates support a future full of cars, though, since even EVs have their drawbacks.
As the global carbon budget is just a decade from vanishing away, the report also calls for global action by states to improve upon their decarbonization commitments, most of which currently fall short of supporting a liveable planet by the end of the century. The task is to reduce global emissions below 30% of the current level to live up to the Paris targets.
Meanwhile, unlike optimist scientists providing roadmaps for a 100% renewable energy future or IEA pessimists suggesting we are far away from it, IRENA experts suggest that renewables can realistically meet 86% of global power demand, even considering that that demand is expected to double by 2050. In addition, renewables can boost employment by 0.2% by 2050, while generating savings of up to $160 trillion over the next 30 years.
Renewables are expected to generate from $3 to $7 payoff for each dollar spent, along with impressive benefits to society as a whole, including better health rates and improved air quality.