Renewable energy and energy efficiency are central pillars for decarbonising the energy sector. Moreover they hold collectively the greatest potential for addressing the climate crisis in a sustainable, decentralised and cost-effective way.
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.
It is evident that renewables are part of the solution agenda to reaching the 1.5C objective. 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, and thereby ensuring energy access for all.
Renewables are cost-completive; the renewables train has left the station. An ambitious agreement coming out of the Paris talks would do much to help accelerate this transition.