The shift towards a low carbon energy system must accelerate to stay in line with the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.
That’s the verdict offered in a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which suggests this is vital to keep the rise in average global temperatures ‘well below’ 2°C and ideally to limit warming to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels.
The report highlights that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have increased by a yearly average of 1.3% over the last five years and says the gap between observed emissions and necessary reductions is widening.
The report suggests three-quarters of global emission-cutting goals could be achieved through renewables and electrification and suggests by scaling up renewable deployment, electricity could provide half of the world’s final energy mix, up from only a fifth currently.
However, it warns deployment of renewable solutions in energy-intensive sectors, particularly with regards to buildings and industry, is still well below the levels needed and progress in energy efficiency is lagging.
The report calls for investment in infrastructure to be focused on low carbon, sustainable and long-term electrification and decentralisation strategies – it also stresses more investment is needed in smart energy systems, power grids, recharging infrastructure, storage, hydrogen and district heating networks.
Director-General of IRENA, Francesco La Camera, said: “The energy transformation must happen much faster. To meet global climate objectives, the deployment of renewables must increase at least six-fold compared to current government plans.
“This would require the impressive progress that we are already witnessing in the power sector to accelerate even further, while efforts to decarbonise transport and heating would need to be stepped-up significantly.”