29 May , 2020

Market to Watch: Ramping up climate ambition and green recovery plans for a 1.5°C future

As the world battles the coronavirus pandemic, it is critical to maintain sight of long-term climate objectives. International commitment to climate action can be the key to enabling economies to recover and rebuild more resilient systems once the storm has passed. Acceleration of renewables could power a green economic recovery, unlocking at least $50 trillion to boost global GDP and power millions of renewable energy jobs by 2050, according to the recent Global Renewables Outlook by IRENA.

In this report published last month, IRENA outlines how the global crisis ignited by the COVID-19 outbreak exposes the gap between the rhetoric of the ‘climate emergency’ and the reality of ‘inadequate global climate action policy’. It urges governments to foster renewables transformation that would effectively pay for itself, by returning $3-8 for every $1 invested. The benefits, IRENA mentions, would extend beyond economics. The agency estimates the global welfare gains would increase by 13.5 per cent with renewables push, delivering 70 per cent CO2 emission cuts, cleaner air, better health and other benefits by 2050.

An “ambitious but achievable” transformation of the energy system

By 2050, under IRENA’s Transforming Energy Scenario, the world’s energy-related CO2 emissions will see a 70 percent reduction compared to current levels, leaving just 9.5 Gt of energy-related emissions. This will be critical to keep global warming well below 2°C and closer to 1.5°C during this century. Achieving this pathway would require a cumulative investment of $110 trillion, or around 2 percent of average annual GDP over the period, mainly towards renewable energy deployment, energy efficiency measures, end-use electrification, grid infrastructure and flexibility.

Wind will play a critical role as world eyes renewables-led economy

To fully reap the economic, environmental and societal benefits of a 1.5°C future, wind energy must play a critical role in this transformation. Wind energy is estimated to soar tenfold from 651 GW in 2019 to more than 6 TW by 2050 in the TES scenario, enabled by accelerated electrification and system flexibility.

GWEC Market Intelligence reflects that the wind sector’s development is in line with the TES scenario by 2050, based on the three key indicators as below:

  • Wind energy has been a source of massive capital investment

    From 2015 to 2019 alone, wind energy generated over $652 billion in investments. Ramping up installed wind capacity to above 2 TW of capacity by 2030 would create an additional annual investment of $207 billion or over $2 trillion. The wind industry will also continue to be a major driver of innovation and investment in R&D as it pursues turbine technology evolution and hybrid solutions.

  • Wind energy has been a major creator of skilled jobs and community benefits

    This is estimated by international agencies that direct and indirect jobs in manufacturing, installing, operating and maintaining wind energy systems will more than triple from 1.2 million in 2018 to nearly 4 million globally by 2030, if deployment takes place at the necessary rate.

  • The wind industry is part of a vital push to renew the world’s energy infrastructure

    Creating sufficient clean generation capacity, a flexible power grid that is ready for large-scale deployment of renewable energy and sufficient port infrastructure for offshore wind are fundamental building blocks for wider economic recovery. With the expected availability of low-cost finance via stimulus packages, the coming years will be vital for creating the infrastructure of the future.

Wind energy is at the heart of the energy transition

Before COVID-19, there were positive signs of progress in implementing the Paris Accord to prevent damaging and irreversible climate change. The pandemic has proven itself as an opportunity for the global community to rethink our climate ambitions, renew our commitments and reshape our economic pathways.

This will be the journey of the century. To bring about a fundamental shift for the energy transition, we must not sacrifice long-term objectives in decarbonisation for short-term gains. Amid the ongoing climate emergency, policymakers must design economic stimulus packages with sustainability at their heart, and rebuild economies as engines of sustainable growth.

Earlier this month, GWEC along with signatories representing all the major wind industry corporates and associations across the world have released a statement highlighting wind power’s role in the global economic recovery following the COVID-19 crisis and laying out the key policy actions that must be put into motion in order to realise a sustainable economic recovery. 

Become a GWEC Member to support our policy efforts, get in touch with Deny Tenenblat or Raveen Singh.

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