Energy transition outlook

Global outlook

The success of the energy transition depends on a transformation of the global energy sector from fossil-based to zero-carbon sources by the second half of this century, reducing energy-related CO2 emissions to mitigate climate change and limit global temperature to within 1.5° of pre-industrial levels.

However, the decarbonisation of the energy sector requires urgent action on a global scale to accelerate the global energy transition and realise both national and regional commitments.

IRENA’s World energy transitions outlook charts an evolving pathway to achieving a climate-safe future in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Its 1.5°C pathway offers a roadmap for accelerating the global energy transition by positioning electrification and efficiency as key drivers of change, backed by renewables, hydrogen and sustainable biomass.

An aggressive energy efficiency strategy, combined with the ramping up of renewables to replace fossil fuels, is the most realistic path towards halving emissions by 2030. Yet phasing out fossil fuels is a complex task for countries heavily reliant on coal - especially given the imperatives of a just and fair transition for workers and communities. Concerted action and international co-operation are therefore essential for timely progress.

The 1.5°C Scenario will require investments of USD 5.7 trillion per year until 2030. Investment decisions are long-lived and the risks of stranded assets are high, so decisions must be guided by long-term logic. The World energy transitions outlook estimates that USD 0.7 trillion in annual investments in fossil fuels should be redirected towards energy transition technologies. While most of the additional capital is expected to come from the private sector, a doubling of public financing will be required to catalyse private finance and create an enabling environment for a transition that brings optimal socio-economic gains, including transition-related jobs and GDP.

Furthermore, a comprehensive set of policies covering all technological avenues is needed to achieve the necessary levels of deployment by 2030. Only a holistic global policy framework can bring countries together to orchestrate a just transition that strengthens international finance flows, capacities and technologies, and leaves no one behind. In turn, progressive policy and regulatory measures will generate greater benefits from the energy transition for all peoples, nations and regions of the world.

Regional outlooks

Representing core components of its global outlook, the Agency’s regional energy transition outlooks provide a more nuanced exploration of both the technical potential and the socio-economic benefits of the energy transition at the regional level. Drawing on analyses of renewable energy markets, employment, innovation, costs and capacities, these serve as the basis for informed development strategies and strengthened regional cooperation to both accelerate the progress toward, and maximise the benefits from, the global transition to renewables.

National outlooks

IRENA’S country-level studies comprise renewable energy roadmaps, readiness assessments, individual socio-economic analyses and transition outlooks that form the foundations of its regional and global perspectives. Providing practical and actionable recommendations, backed by extensive data and knowledge, these products serve as the basis for informed decision-making at the national level to support and advance the global energy transition.