Beyond Crisis: Renewable Energy for a Low-carbon Future

1 / 4

A clean future is within reach

Energy-related CO2 emissions have risen by 1% per year over the past decade. While today’s COVID-19 crisis may suppress emissions, a rebound would restore the long-term trend.

Transforming the energy system with an emphasis on renewables would substantially cut emissions and keep global warming “well below 2oC” in line with the Paris Agreement.

Yet the ultimate goal would be to reach zero emissions.

While the last portion of CO2 emissions will be the hardest and most expensive to eliminate, a zero emissions future is possible with a new perspective on deeper decarbonisation presented in the report.

Zero emissions is possible

The Deeper Decarbonisation Perspective highlights the role of emerging technologies in mitigating CO2 emissions in shipping, aviation and other energy-intensive industries.

Key actions include:

  • Electrify transport and heating
  • Adopt renewable-based “green” hydrogen
  • Develop supply chain for sustainable bioenergy
  • Embrace the circular economy
  • Maximise all possible efficiency measures
  • Promote behavioral and other structural changes

Investment must be scaled-up rapidly

Investment must be scaled up and redirected into clean energy technologies. Fossil-fuel investments and subsidies must give way to investments in renewables and efficiency.

Transforming the energy system requires over 80% of total energy investment to be invested in renewables, energy efficiency, end-use electrification, power grids upgrades and grid flexibility.

The Transforming Energy Scenario requires USD 110 trillion in cumulative investments by 2050. Deeper decarbonisation requires an additional USD 20 trillion to reach zero emissions.

Savings would outweigh costs

Transforming energy system, while costing USD 19 trillion more, would bring returns between USD 50 trillion and USD 142 trillion.

Deeper decarbonisation would cost an additional USD 16 trillion to achieve net-zero emissions, or an additional USD 26 trillion to achieve fully zero emissions (with no carbon offsets).

Yet, the estimated savings of USD 62 trillion to USD 169 trillion are greater than the total costs of USD 35 trillion to USD 45 trillion.

Supportive policies and investment would boost economic growth

Moving forward, the interlinkages of supportive policies and investment stimulus could be assessed to understand their compatibility to build an inclusive low-carbon economy.

Global GDP in 2050 would be 2.4% higher, which amounts to cumulative gain of USD 98 trillion to 2050. While the economy-wide employment increases by 0.15% (6.5 million more) in 2050, the energy jobs overall would reach 100 million by 2050, about 40 million more than today.

More jobs would be gained than lost

Jobs in renewables could quadruple to 42 million globally by 2050. Employment gains under the energy transition extend to sectors across the economy, with 7 million more jobs than under current plans.

More people in every region of the world would find employment in manufacturing, installing, operating and maintaining renewable energy systems.

Energy efficiency could employ 21.3 million people. Another 14.5 million people will be working in jobs related to power grids and energy flexibility.

Everywhere, the transition promises to improve people’s welfare

People’s well-being would improve faster and further through clean energy supply, economic and social development, and mitigation of climate change.

Lower air pollution would result in better health across every region.

Different regions must follow different paths to energy sustainability

Regional and national transition plans, institutional structures, capabilities and policy ambitions vary, bringing different results in 2050.

Rapid decarbonisation calls for unprecedented policy ambition

Ultimately, success in mitigating the climate threat will depend on the policies adopted, the speed of their implementation and the amounts invested.

A global green deal would foster fair energy transformation

A comprehensive policy package would bring together:

  • Climate goals
  • Economic development and job creation
  • Social equity and welfare

The energy transition is at the heart of them all.

Explore more on this topic

Browse these Related publications:

1 / 4