IRENA releases first ‘Global Renewables Outlook – Energy Transformation 2050’

Source: press release, 20 April 2020

illustration: IRENA
illustration: IRENA

The first Global Renewables Outlook has been released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) finds that transforming the energy system could boost cumulative global GDP gains above business-as-usual by USD 98 trillion between now and 2050. It would nearly quadruple renewable energy jobs to 42 million, expand employment in energy efficiency to 21 million, and add 15 million in system flexibility, which confirms that advancing the renewable-based energy transformation is an opportunity to meet international climate goals while boosting economic growth, creating millions of jobs and improving human welfare by 2050.

Raising regional and country-level ambitions will be crucial to meet interlinked energy and climate objectives. The report presents findings on the specific transition prospects for 10 regions around the world. Comprehensive policies could tackle energy and climate goals alongside socio-economic challenges, fostering the transformative decarbonisation of societies.

IRENA’s Outlook shows the ways to build more sustainable, equitable, and resilient economies by aligning short-term recovery efforts with the medium- as well as long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Agenda.

Key Findings:

  • The Outlook’s energy transformation would cut 70% of the world’s energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2050. Over 90% of this reduction would be achieved through renewables and energy efficiency measures.
  • A new perspective on deeper decarbonisation shows a path towards zero emissions. Building on five technology pillars, particularly green hydrogen and extended end-use electrification, could help replace fossil-fuels and slash emissions in heavy industry and hard-to-decarbonise sectors.
  • While a pathway to deeper decarbonisation requires total energy investment of up to USD 130 trillion, the socio-economic gains of such an investment would be massive. Transforming the energy system indicates higher GDP growth, achieving 2.4% more by mid-century than current plans would achieve.
  • Low-carbon investment would significantly pay off, with savings eight times more than costs when accounting for reduced health and environmental externalities.

Visit the IRENA website to download the Global Renewables Outlook.