Tripling Renewables is Key to Meeting Climate Goals

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Renewables are critical to limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C

Tripling renewable energy and doubling energy efficiency by 2030 is the most realistic, accessible and cost-effective way to close the energy transition gap and realign with the Paris Agreement goals.

2022 saw the largest ever annual increase in renewable energy which now accounts for 40% of global installed power capacity. However, the scale and extent of renewables deployment in and across different sectors and regions is uneven, falling short of a just and equitable 1.5°C pathway. 

If the needs of the 1.5°C pathway are to be met, fossil fuels need to be phased out and annual investments in the energy transition quadrupled.

Current NDC commitments fall short

As a part of the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries have committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

By the end of October 2023, 195 NDCs had been submitted. 178 of which were new or updated. yet, only 108 NDCs making up 84% of the world’s GHG emissions indicate enhanced ambitions in terms of emission reduction targets.

Updated NDCs lag in terms of renewable energy targets

With respect to renewable energy, 148 parties have a quantifiable renewable energy target in their NDCs, 113 include power targets and only 33 have targets for end use sectors such as heating and transport, despite the need for more ambitious, concrete targets for end uses to achieve climate goals.

Renewable energy ambitions within these NDCs are insufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

G20 climate commitments fall short of climate goals

The bulk of greenhouse gas emissions come from the Group of 20 (G20) countries, yet the renewable energy commitments in their NDCs are less than half of what they need to be to align with the global goal of tripling renewables.

Under IRENA’s 1.5°C Scenario, the G20 needs to grow its renewable power capacity from less than 3 terawatts (TW) in 2022 to 9.4 TW by 2030.

As of October 2023, only 13 of the G20 members had set renewable energy power targets in their NDCs and even if all were met by 2030, only 4.6 TW of the 9.4 TW needed would be secured. In their national policies, G20 countries are more ambitious, with plans to install 6.3 TW.

Nonetheless, current ambitions in both the NDCs and the national energy plans are lacking. This necessitates an urgent and significant escalation of commitments, while simultaneously aligning NDCs with national energy plans and policies.

NDCs and national policies need urgent alignment

In an analysis of 95 Parties across the G20, least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS), only one-third of the Parties have fully aligned NDCs and national policies. The rest are either partially aligned or completely misaligned.

Aligning renewable energy targets in NDCs and national policies would 1) increase the effectiveness and credibility of both, and 2) send clear signals to investors, developers and other players across the supply chain to enable further development of the renewable energy sector.

LDCs aim to double their renewable capacity by 2030

LDCs contribute less than 4% of global GHG emissions, yet they are disproportionately impacted by climate change, remaining particularly vulnerable due to their economic structures, geographical locations and limited adaptive capacity.

Renewable energy offers opportunities for socio-economic development, increased access to reliable and affordable clean energy and enhanced energy security.

Therefore, as of 2022, LDCs stated their intention to double their renewable installed capacity to reach a total of 105 gigawatts (GW) by 2030. According to their NDCs they have 58 GW left to add to achieve their set targets. However, achieving this target is contingent upon receiving support from the international community.

SIDS are all in for renewables

Among the SIDS, several countries have set 100% renewable power targets, equivalent to around 13 GW of total installed renewable capacity by 2030, up from less than 6 GW in 2022.

Achieving this goal would help SIDS to alleviate the financial drain from importing fossil fuels.

However, similar to the LDCs, almost half of the targeted capacity is dependent on support from the international community. SIDS will require a minimum of USD 10 billion, more than 45% of which needs to come from the international community.

The international community must step up

According to their NDCs, LDCs and SIDS present a USD 100 billion+ renewable energy investment opportunity.

But the LDCs for instance, received less than USD 30 billion in renewable energy investments in 2013-2020. By historical standards, investments need to more than triple in 2023-2030.

The international community must step up to mobilise this financing for a just and inclusive energy transition. In its absence, many nations with conditional commitments may opt for fossil fuel investments that have lower upfront costs, delaying the energy transition globally, and precluding these countries from the socioeconomic benefits of the transition.

Commitments must turn into concrete actions

Eight years after the Paris Agreement, the climate commitments made by Parties are not sufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

In order to accelerate a just, inclusive and equitable energy transition:

  1. The G20 needs to double its own renewable energy ambitions in NDCs, while simultaneously aligning its climate pledges under the Paris Agreement framework with national plans, policies and laws.
  2. The international community must scale up financing in the form of more concessional loans and grants. Part of this includes going beyond the USD 100 billion per year commitment in climate finance from developed to developing countries, accompanied with a binding and robust framework for actual delivery.
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