21 of December 2015

Renewables as a central solution to climate change mitigation

Dear readers,

Throughout COP21, renewables were for the first time visible as a central solution to climate change mitigation. The strong appetite for an energy transition with renewables was palpable as they are economically viable and are adopted increasingly by business.

Despite the world’s recent annual average of 1.5% increase in energy consumption, and an average 3% growth in Gross Domestic Product, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2014 were unchanged from 2013 levels. For the first time in four decades, the world economy grew without a parallel rise in CO2 emissions. This landmark “decoupling” was due—in large part—to the increased use of renewable resources, and efforts to promote more sustainable growth through increased use of energy efficiency and renewable energy.  This decarbonising of the economy also illustrates the place of renewables and energy efficiency at the heart of the solution to mitigate climate change.

The numbers speak for themselves. By the end of 2014, renewables contributed 19.1% to the global final energy consumption and supplied 22.8% of the world’s electricity.  Over the course of the year, renewables represented 59% of net additions to global power capacity, clearly showing that a transition to renewables is well underway in the electricity sector.  Nevertheless, this transition must be accelerated across all energy sectors. In 2014, renewables contributed only 8% to the heating and cooling sector.  And much more action is needed to decarbonise the transport sector.

For the first time in history, 196 countries agreed on a global climate agreement, committing to   peaking greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible to keep global temperature increase "well below" 2ºC and to pursuing efforts to limit this temperature to 1.5ºC. (Read more in this ALER article)

This objective can only be achieved if fossil fuels are phased out rapidly. It has become evident that the energy future of our planet must be renewables-based. We have the technological solutions to address this challenge.  Morally we have no excuse not to commit to an energy transition that moves us towards 100 % renewable energy and energy efficiency, thereby ensuring energy access for all.

However, for this to become reality, a lot still needs to shift both in the private and public sectors.

Let’s recharge our batteries during the Christmas/New Year break so as to be able to continue this work, making the global energy transition towards renewables a tangible reality soon!

Happy holidays,

Christine Lins

Executive Secretary of REN21