ECO is excited about the many voices in favour of a future powered by renewable energy. On Thursday, it was UNEP’s turn to explore the role of renewables and energy efficiency (RE & EE) in achieving Sustainable Energy for All. Their side event presented, among other things, findings from the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) REMAP 2030 study.
ECO finds some of the findings so cool that they should be printed on T-shirts, so we did:
“Renewable energy and energy efficiency are the world’s best chance to avoid catastrophic climate change.”
Or how would “If we use more renewable energy, we save money” work on a poster hanging in a minister’s wall?
Renewables are crucial in achieving modern energy access for all. According to IRENA, renewables are now the lowest-cost solution for new capacity in an increasing number of countries and regions. Many RE technologies are significantly cheaper than diesel- or kerosene-based systems, and cheaper than extending the grid into rural areas with low per capita energy demand. In addition, renewables offer more security and greater reliability than fossil fuels.
There are other benefits too. Doubling the share of RE in the global energy mix to 36% by 2030 could result in 900,000 additional direct jobs in the energy sector, and reduce health-related costs by up to US$200 billion annually. When taking the true costs of fossil fuel use into account, switching to renewables could deliver overall savings of up to $740bn per year by 2030.
If we really get going, renewables can be even bigger, like 40% by 2030, which is close to what, for example, Greenpeace and WWF scenarios show is needed to put us on a path to 100% RE by around mid century. So let’s rock!
But here’s the real take-home message, especially for all the developed country finance negotiators: to maximise renewable energy uptake and provide modern energy access for all, international cooperation is not just desirable, but absolutely essential, along with access to finance.