Renewable technologies like wind and solar power have emerged as cost-effective alternatives to fossil fuels, which are driving climate change. To combat the climate crisis effectively, the world must prioritize the transformation of its energy systems towards renewable energy. The upcoming Climate Ambition Summit, scheduled for September 20th at UN Headquarters in New York, aims to explore strategies to expedite this transformation. Here are five crucial ways to accelerate this transition:
Shift energy subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy:
Fossil fuel subsidies present a significant financial barrier to the global shift towards renewable energy. The UN Secretary-General has called for an end to all international public and private funding of fossil fuels. In 2020, a staggering $5.9 trillion was spent on subsidizing the fossil fuel industry, including subsidies, tax breaks, and environmental damage costs. Shifting these subsidies towards renewable energy not only reduces fossil fuel use but also promotes sustainable economic growth, job creation, improved public health, and greater equality.
Triple investments in renewables:
To achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, an estimated $4 trillion per year must be invested in renewable energy until 2030. Investing in renewables is not only cost-effective but can also save up to $4.2 trillion annually by 2030 through reduced pollution and climate impact. Global financial systems, including multilateral development banks, must align their lending portfolios with renewable energy to ensure these investments translate into real energy security, stable power prices, and sustainable employment opportunities.
Make renewable energy technology a global public good:
To ensure that renewable energy technology is accessible to all, efforts should focus on dismantling barriers to knowledge-sharing and technology transfer, including intellectual property rights. Technologies such as battery storage systems, vital for storing renewable energy, must be made readily available to communities worldwide. This approach can provide reliable and affordable electricity to isolated grids and off-grid communities, fostering energy access for all.
Improve global access to components and raw materials:
To enable the renewable energy transition, widespread access to key components and raw materials is essential, from minerals for building wind turbines to elements for manufacturing electric vehicles. International coordination is needed to expand and diversify global manufacturing capacity, with investments in skills training, research, innovation, and sustainable supply chain practices. This approach ensures a reliable supply of renewable energy components while safeguarding ecosystems.
Level the playing field
To level the playing field for renewable energy technologies, it is crucial to prioritize both global cooperation and reforming domestic policy frameworks. These reforms should aim to simplify and expedite renewable energy projects while stimulating private sector investments.
Although the necessary technology, capacity, and funding for the renewable energy transition exist, it is essential to implement policies and processes that reduce market risks, encouraging investment while minimizing bureaucratic obstacles.
Moreover, countries’ nationally determined contributions, which outline individual climate action plans, should establish renewable energy targets aligned with the goal of limiting global temperature increases to 1.5°C (2.7°F) above pre-industrial levels. Achieving this goal requires increasing the share of renewables in global electricity generation from the current 29 percent to 60 percent by 2030.