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World Falling Short On Energy Transition Targets: IRENA Report

Above Photo: Wind turbines producing electricity spin over a solar park near Klettwitz, Germany on Nov. 1, 2022. Sean Gallup / Getty Images.

A new report from International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) at this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 27, reviews energy targets set around the world and how they are progressing. The findings show that countries are falling short on their energy transition targets. The report also notes that only 12 of the 194 parties in the Paris Agreement have a commitment for a specific percentage of renewables in their total energy mixes.

In Renewable Energy Targets in 2022: A guide to design, the research shows that globally, countries’ energy transition ambitions are not enough to limit global warming to 1.5°C. By 2030, countries are currently targeting to meet 5.4 terawatts (TW) of renewable energy capacity, but the world needs to meet 10.8 TW of installed renewable energy capacity by the end of the decade to keep warming within the 1.5°C target.

“IRENA’s report is a warning to the international community telling them that renewables offer a readily achievable climate solution but require immediate action. Climate pledges must enhance ambition to unlock the full and untapped potential of renewables,” IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera said in a statement. “There is a need for real urgency. Despite some progress, the energy transition is far from being on track. Any near-term shortfall in action will further reduce the chance of keeping 1.5°C within reach.”

Of the 194 participants in the Paris Agreement, 183 included some renewable energy components in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and 143 of those parties had a quantified target. But 108 parties’ targets focus on power, and only 12 parties defined and committed to reaching a specific percentage of renewables in their overall energy composition.

Another report from IRENA, the World Energy Transitions Outlook, says 90% of decarbonization will require renewable energy. But reaching this outlook by 2050 requires immediate and sufficient action by the end of this decade.

Reaching these ambitious renewable energy targets isn’t impossible. Countries need to add about 2.3 TW of renewable energy capacity, or about 259 gigawatts (GW) per year, on average, through the end of the decade. In 2020 and 2021, countries collectively added about 261 GW each year.

The report concludes, “Governments must move rapidly in designing targets that can help achieve the pressing objectives of reducing GHG emissions from burning fossil fuels, limiting dependence on energy imports, achieving universal access to clean, affordable and reliable energy, and meeting other socio-economic goals.”

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