COP28 Clean Energy Target ‘Out of Reach’

An urgent global course correction is needed to achieve the COP28 goal of tripling renewable power capacity by 2030, a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has shown. Although 2023 set new records with 473 gigawatts (GW) added to the global energy mix and US$2 trillion invested in the energy transition, the goal remains out of reach. “In the wake of the historic UAE consensus at COP28, these capacity additions clearly indicate that achieving the target is far from guaranteed,” said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA. “Our data confirms that progress continues to fall short. We urgently need a systemic shift away from fossil fuels to course-correct.” Tripling renewable power capacity by 2030 is still technically feasible and economically viable, but hinges on overcoming systemic and structural barriers. An additional 7.2 terawatts (TW) of renewable power are still needed to reach the required 11TW – the equivalent of 1,100GW annually, more than double the record set last year. G20 nations should grow their renewable capacity from under 3TW in 2022 to 9.4TW by the end of the decade – accounting for over 80% of the global total. “Evolving policies, geopolitical shifts and declining costs have all played a role in propelling the rapid expansion of renewable energy in markets worldwide,” IRENA noted. “Yet, to triple renewable power capacity, concerted efforts are required to enhance infrastructure, policies and workforce capabilities, underpinned by increased financing and closer international cooperation.” Investments in power grids and storage, revised regulations around power market design and streamlined permitting, and measures to fortify supply chains and cultivate requisite skills, were all cited as imperative. With developing countries in the Global South having received disproportionately low levels of investment and Sub-Saharan Africa facing some of the highest finance costs, the report also noted the crucial role of multilateral development banks and public finance. “A key aspect of IRENA’s 1.5°C scenario is that the increase in renewable energy use must be coupled with a corresponding decline in fossil fuel reliance, [but] both aspects are lagging,” the agency said. “Fossil fuels received US$1.3 trillion in subsidies in 2022, equivalent to the annual investment required in renewable generation capacity to achieve a threefold increase by 2030.”

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