Bold climate action could deliver $26 trillion in economic benefits by 2030, yet investment in renewable energy is much too low
If supply of electricity from clean energy sources does not double within the next eight years, climate change and more extreme weather are likely to undermine our energy security and even impact renewable energy supplies, according to recently released ‘2022 State of Climate Services: Energy’ by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
“The energy sector is the source of around three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions. Switching to clean forms of energy generation, such as solar, wind and hydropower – and improving energy efficiency – is vital if we are to thrive in the twenty-first century. Net zero by 2050 is the aim. But we will only get there if we double the supply of low-emissions electricity within the next eight years,” says WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
Access to reliable weather, water and climate information and services will be increasingly important to strengthen the resilience of energy infrastructure and meet rising demand (an increase of 30% in the past ten years), notes WMO.
The report also highlights that green powered grids will bring in big opportunities to help cope with climate change, improve air quality, conserve water resources, protect the environment, create jobs and ensure a better future for us all.
By 2050, global electricity needs -- which will be increasing over the years being electrification a strategic lever to tackle Net Zero goals -- will mainly be met with renewable energy, with solar the single largest supply source, states WMO.
According to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, as quoted by WMO, bold climate action could deliver $26 trillion in economic benefits by 2030. And yet, investment in renewable energy is much too low, especially in developing countries and too little attention is paid to the importance of climate services for energy to support both climate adaptation and decisions on how to reduce greenhouse gases.
Despite these risks, just 40% of climate action plans submitted by governments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) prioritize adaptation in the energy sector, and investment is correspondingly low. Supply from low-emissions sources needs to double by 2030 if the world is to reach net zero by 2050, points out the report.
A transition to renewable energy will help alleviate growing global water stresses because the amount of water used to generate electricity by solar and wind is much lower than for more traditional power plants, either fossil-fuel- or nuclear-based. But current pledges by countries fall well short of what is needed to meet the objectives set by the Paris Agreement, leaving a 70% gap in the amount of emissions reductions needed by 2030, says WMO.
Renewable energy pledges represent less than half of what is needed. The pathway to reach the Paris Agreement's long-term global goal on temperature requires 7.1 TW of clean energy capacity to be installed by 2030, according to figures cited in the report. The world is set to fall short of achieving the goal of universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030, as set out in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, by a wide margin.