Transforming the global energy system could boost GDP above business-as-usual levels by as much as $98 trillion (£78.8tn) by 2050.
That’s the suggestion from the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) first Global Renewables Outlook, which predicts shifting to a decarbonised, renewable-led energy system provides a significant opportunity to meet international climate goals while boosting economic growth, creating millions of jobs and improving human welfare.
It notes that whilst the pathway to full carbon-neutrality by 2050 requires up to $130 trillion (£104.5tn) in total energy investments, the resulting socio-economic gains would be “massive”, generating savings eight times more than costs when accounting for reduced health and environmental externalities.
The report forecasts low carbon investment at this scale would nearly quadruple renewable energy jobs to 42 million, expand employment in energy efficiency to 21 million and create 15 million system flexibility roles.
IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera said: “Governments are facing a difficult task of bringing the health emergency under control while introducing major stimulus and recovery measures. The crisis has exposed deeply embedded vulnerabilities of the current system. IRENA’s Outlook shows the ways to build more sustainable, equitable and resilient economies by aligning short-term recovery efforts with the medium-and long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Agenda.”
“By accelerating renewables and making the energy transition an integral part of the wider recovery, governments can achieve multiple economic and social objectives in the pursuit of a resilient future that leaves nobody behind.”