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Urgent shift to renewables needed to avoid ‘catastrophic climate change’, says report



Unless the world urgently shifts to renewable and clean energy the impacts of climate change could be “catastrophic”, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) warns in a new report.

The first edition of REthinking Energy, which looks at the progress the world Is making in its transition to a low carbon future, focuses on how technological advances, economic growth and climate change are transforming the global power sector.

It argues that with global population increasing, which is projected to reach 9 billion in 2030, and the emergence of a larger middle class electricity demand will more than double. Currently, the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity accounts for more than 40% of manmade carbon emissions but if demand increased this could rise unless there is a rapid shift on the way we generate electricity.

Adnan Amin, director general of IRENA, said, “A convergence of social, economic and environmental forces are transforming the global energy system as we know it.

“But if we continue on a path we are currently on and fuel our growing economies with outmoded ways of thinking and acting, we will not be able to avoid the most serious impacts of climate change.”

The report notes that there is evidence amongst government and companies that a shift is occurring. Renewables, which are up to 250 times less carbon-intensive than coal and up to 120-times less so than natural gas, are increasingly becoming part of the energy mix.

Amin added, “The good news is that renewable energy provides a viable and affordable solution to address climate change today. And while the outlook for renewable power is bright, we need to rethink the mechanisms which have, up to this point, brought renewables into the mainstream and prepare for the next stage of this global transformation.”

A UN report called for investment in renewable energy to rise dramatically in April. The organisation stated that time is running out for world power to cut greenhouse gas emissions and prevent runaway global warming.

Photo: Henry Burrows via flickr 

Further reading:

Clinton: US can become renewable energy ‘superpower’

German renewable energy sector sets new world record

Developing economies overtake G7 on tackling climate change

Greg Barker: UK renewables ‘extremely attractive’ for investors

The Guide to Sustainable Clean Energy 2014


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