Transitioning to renewable energy is imperative for the planet’s survival, a fact underscored by UN Secretary-General António Guterres as the world observed the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies on September 7. Guterres emphasizes that “without renewable, there can be no future.”
To expedite this transition, here are five essential strategies:
SHIFT ENERGY SUBSIDIES AWAY FROM FOSSIL FUELS TO RENEWABLES
One major obstacle hindering the shift to renewable energy is the substantial subsidies allocated to fossil fuels. The UN Secretary-General has repeatedly called for ending both international public and private funding of fossil fuels, labelling new investments in them as “delusional.” In 2020 alone, an astonishing $5.9 trillion was spent on subsidizing the fossil fuel industry, covering subsidies, tax breaks, and unaccounted health and environmental costs. Transitioning these subsidies to renewable energy not only reduces fossil fuel consumption but also promotes economic growth, job creation, improved public health, and greater equality, especially for vulnerable communities.
TRIPLE INVESTMENTS IN RENEWABLES
To achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, approximately $4 trillion annually must be invested in renewable energy until 2030. This investment pales in comparison to subsidizing fossil fuels. The reduction in pollution and climate impact alone could save up to $4.2 trillion per year by 2030. Global financial systems, including multilateral development banks and financial institutions, need to commit to aligning their portfolios with renewable energy. The UN Secretary-General emphasizes that renewable are the path to energy security, stable power prices, and sustainable employment opportunities.
MAKE RENEWABLE ENERGY TECHNOLOGY ACCESSIBLE TO ALL
For renewable energy technology to serve as a global public good, it should be accessible to everyone, not just the affluent. This requires efforts to dismantle barriers to knowledge-sharing and technology transfer, including intellectual property rights. Key technologies, such as battery storage systems, play a pivotal role in storing and releasing energy when needed. Widening access to these technologies can provide reliable and affordable electricity to remote and off-grid communities worldwide.
ENHANCE GLOBAL ACCESS TO RENEWABLE ENERGY COMPONENTS AND RAW MATERIALS
A robust supply of renewable energy components and raw materials is crucial. Wider access to these resources, from minerals for wind turbines to elements for electric vehicles, is needed. International coordination is essential to expand and diversify global manufacturing capacity. Investments in skills training, research, innovation, and sustainable supply chain practices are necessary to protect ecosystems while meeting these demands.
LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD FOR TECHNOLOGIES
While international cooperation is vital, domestic policy frameworks must be reformed to expedite renewable energy projects and stimulate private sector investments. Policies should reduce market risks, encourage investments, and streamline processes. Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) must establish such energy targets that align with limiting global temperature increases to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. To achieve this, the share of renewable in global electricity generation must grow from the current 29% to 60% by 2030.