Clean-energy transition across the world

11 October 2021


Mozidur Rahman Biswas :
The economics of renewable energy have improved beyond recognition, because boosting investment in renewables is very vital to creating jobs, driving economic growth leading to reducing air pollution across the globe. Nowadays, solar power is the cheapest form of electricity in history and over 90 percent of power-generation capacity was added by renewables around the world last year. It does imply that to limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the world's energy systems must have to transform even faster. But that necessarily requires relevant action by concerned governments and public financial institutions to stop supporting fossil fuels and essentially emphasize on international support for the clean-energy transition, according to global experts.
Thus, to meet the 2015 Paris climate agreement's 1.5°C target, the global energy transition needs to progress 4-6 times faster than its current quantum. This is necessary because fossil fuels still supply 84 per cent of the world's energy and account for over 75 per cent of global emissions can only meet the International Energy Agency's Net Zero by 2050 roadmap, which shows that global energy systems must have to be fossil-fuel-free by 2040. The Paris agreement was concluded since G20 governments provided more than three times more public finance for fossil fuels ($77 billion) than for renewables every year.
The ongoing year's catastrophic storms, floods, and wildfires have shown why we need positive climate action as future prosperity lies in clean energy investment to ensure  a clear economic development. In view of that, as wind and solar are now cheaper than new coal and gas power plants in two-thirds of the world. This dramatic cost reduction over the past decade has transformed global energy options, particularly in the very poorest countries, where renewables-based mini grids offer real opportunities to alleviate energy poverty and provide energy access, experts viewed.
In the context of that boosting investment in renewables, vitally needed to  to creating jobs, driving economic growth, and reducing air pollution.  The International Renewable Energy Agency believing that deploying renewables at scale could help create 42 million jobs worldwide 50 and as such additional employment will be crucial for delivering a resilient, green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in countries with young, fast-growing populations. Of course, jobs will also disappear as we abandon fossil fuels. Therefore steps must be taken to ensure that every community benefits from the transition, which will require pragmatically carefully designed policies matching  the newly managed shifting from older forms of energy generation. All these crucially require global solidarity to provide with the necessary technologies, expertise, investment support, and financial strategies.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) scheduled  in Glasgow in November, governments and financial institutions have to commit to supporting cheaper, cleaner, no-regrets energy, and to ending all international support for fossil-fuel-based power. We recall, in May, G7 member states committed to cease all of their international financing for coal projects by the end of 2021, and to "phase out new direct government support for carbon-intensive international fossil fuel energy." Besides, South Korea, Japan, and now China - the world's largest providers of international coal financing - have also agreed to stop funding coal projects overseas. Thus, more than 85 countries (plus the European Union) have submitted updated national climate pledges, as outlined in the Paris agreement, showing  a clear trend toward higher renewable energy use and lower reliance on fossil fuel. But to ensure the focal point by 2030, countries concerned will need substantial technical and financial support to achieve the success.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom and the European Investment Bank have both committed to making international support for the clean-energy transition a high priority. In 2019, the EIB became the first multilateral bank to announce an end to all financing for sill-fuel energy projects (by 2021). The bank has been increasing its investments in clean energy, including in developing countries to support their transition. In Kenya, EIB investments have helped build the largest wind farm in Africa, providing clean and affordable energy to the region. In March, the UK government put an immediate end to new public support for overseas international fossil-fuel energy projects, fully shifting investment into renewables. All these are the positive signals of a clear decision to unlock significant opportunities, building on existing support for clean energy provided by the country's export credit agency, UK Export Finance. This includes over £140 million ($189 million) of financing for UK exports to Ghana, which will help Ghana pursue major national infrastructure projects, including an initiative for solar-powered clean water that will reach more than 225,000 people, according to latest reports from varied fronts.
In the context of the facts as detailed above, the need of building more momentum in the process is necessitated to ensure the success of ensuing COP26. But more strong commitments are needed to align international public support fully with the Paris goals. Here lies the importance of building solidarity by governments and public-finance institutions globally. The joint statement proclaiming support for clean energy and a phase-out of fossil fuels is the most important decision to taken in the ensuing  COP26 scheduled in Glasgow in the best interest of human beings across the world.

(The writer is a senior journalist).

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