Transforming the energy system


September 2019
ISBN : 978-92-9260-149-2

– and holding the line on rising global temperatures


In response to the threat of climate change, countries around the world have pledged to invest in low-carbon energy. National plans and investment patterns, however, show a stark mismatch with the pathway to meet the commitments set out in the Paris Agreement, which would keep the rise in global temperatures well below 2 degrees (oC) and ideally hold the line at 1.5oC.

At least USD 95 trillion worth of energy investments are planned worldwide until mid-century. But those plans and related investments are not always channelled toward climate proof systems.

This report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) explores two broad future paths: Current Plans (meaning the course set by current and planned policies); and the path for a clean, climate-resilient Energy Transformation.

IRENA’s analysis shows that planned fossil-fuel investments must be substantially redirected, with annual investments in renewables more than doubled for the coming decade. A comprehensive energy transformation can create a better energy system – one capable of ensuring that average global temperatures at the end of the century are no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. But to make this happen, the pace and depth of investments in renewables must be accelerated without delay, the report urges.

Among other findings:

  • Creating a climate-safe system calls for USD 110 trillion worth of investments in the energy sector by 2050, compared to USD 95 trillion currently planned.
  • Much of the USD 95 trillion currently planned for investments by 2050 must be redirected from fossil fuel investments to clean technologies.
  • Renewables – including power generation, end-use applications and biofuels – would account for USD 27 trillion worth of energy transformation investments by 2050.
  • Compared to current plans, the transformation would create 7 million more jobs and boost global GDP by 2.5%.

See also the digital story, “Holding the line on rising global temperatures”.

The key findings are also available in Arabic (عربي), Chinese (中文), EnglishFrench (français)Japanese  (日本語)Portuguese (português), Russian (русский) and Spanish (español).