A ‘clean revolution’ of renewable energy could provide the global economy with a major boost while also preventing devastating climate change, according to a coalition of business and government leaders.
Commenting ahead of the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) new report on how global warming can be mitigated, the Climate Group says the need for a rapid transition to clean energy is now clear.
The IPCC’s report is expected to say there is still time to prevent runaway climate change, but only if investment is rapidly shifted away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy.
According to various news outlets that have accessed draft copies, scientists say spending on renewables must increase by $147 billion (£88 billion) each year.
Meanwhile, investments in fossil fuels such as oil and coal would have to drop by $30 billion (£18 billion) a year, as renewable energy’s share of global production will have to rise from 17% in 2010 to about 50% in 2050.
“This is no longer a theoretical discussion”, said Mark Kenber, CEO of the Climate Group, who claimed that 70-80% of the technology required for this transition was already available.
He added, “What is now beyond doubt is that the cleantech sector is an attractive proposition for any investor: the global market is now worth more than $2.56 trillion a year, and is expected to be valued at more than $5.13 trillion by the mid-2020s.”
Kenber argued that the rise of renewables would be good for consumers too, as clean energy prices are expected to fall.
However, the Climate Group said that investment in cleantech can only rise to the required levels if policymakers are supportive.
“What is needed is the right policy incentives and political will to direct the capital flows towards a low carbon future”, said Changhua Wu, the group’s Greater China director.
The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change represents some of Europe’s richest investors collectively worth over €7.5 trillion.
Its CEO, Stephanie Pfeifer, added, “The longer investors wait for strong regional and global climate policy which could drive the transition to a low-carbon economy, the greater the risk of climate change which would inflict serious economic losses.”
The IPCC’s report on mitigation, due to be presented to policymakers on Sunday, was preceded by a report on the likely impacts of climate change. It offered a sobering description of the damage that could be caused, warning that no nation would be left untouched.
While the need for decarbonisation has never been so clear, according to a separate report published this week, renewable energy investment fell in 2013 due to falling costs and policy uncertainty.
The UN-commissioned 2014 Global Trends In Renewable Energy Investment report said that despite an increase in renewable energy installations, which helped save 1.2 gigatonnes of emissions, investment dropped in absolute terms by 14% in 2013.