G20 Declaration Edges Closer to Global Renewable Energy Goal Pre-COP28

The global energy transition has received a substantial impetus following the adoption of the International Renewable Energy Agency's (IRENA) recommendations by G20 leaders in New Delhi. These recommendations underscore the imperative to triple the world's renewable energy capacity by 2030.

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United Nations Climate Change Conference

There is a significant opportunity for global cooperation in achieving the main goal of the Paris Agreement: limiting the increase in global temperatures to 1.5°C, with less than 12 weeks until the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) meets in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Urgent Need for Renewable Energy

To realize this goal, a comprehensive transformation of energy consumption and production is imperative. This entails a shift away from fossil fuels toward a cleaner and more sustainable energy system. Over the past decade, renewable energy has become the most cost-effective solution for meeting the world's growing energy demands while combatting climate change. However, progress in renewable energy deployment remains insufficient.

In order to meet the urgent demand, the world's renewable energy capacity must quadruple, from roughly 3,000 GW to just over 11,000 GW, by 2030, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency's (IRENA) World Energy Transitions Outlook 2023 (WETO) report.

Global Momentum and Financing

Earlier this year, G7 leaders committed to accelerating action on the energy transition, aligning themselves with IRENA's 1.5°C pathway. The inclusion of the G20, with its global influence, demonstrates the growing momentum behind IRENA's scenario. The G20 declaration from the New Delhi summit also cited a joint report between IRENA and India's G20 Presidency, which estimated the need for over $4 trillion in annual investments by 2030.

This presents a significant opportunity to support renewable energy, especially in the Global South, where many vulnerable communities are located. Unfortunately, these communities haven't received their fair share of renewable energy investment. In fact, over the past decade, 85% of renewable energy investments have benefited less than 50% of the world's population. Addressing this disparity is crucial to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Closing the Investment Gap

A change in global collaboration is needed to close the widening investment gap between wealthy and developing countries. Building infrastructure to support the new energy system should be a top priority for multilateral financial organizations. Three major pillars are outlined in IRENA's WETO:

1. Developing necessary infrastructure, including grids via land and sea routes, to accommodate new production locations, trade patterns, and demand centers.

2. Advancing an evolved policy and regulatory framework that facilitates targeted investments.

3. Developing institutional capacities to align skills and capabilities with the envisioned energy system.

This prioritization can deliver economic and social benefits while enabling private sector investments in regions facing high capital costs.

Accelerating the Transition

The transition to a just and sustainable energy system demands accelerated financial efforts. Time is of the essence, and we can't afford a gradual transition over centuries as with the fossil fuel-based system.

The G7's call for ambitious renewable energy targets and the recent G20 declaration demonstrate international recognition of the need for action in line with IRENA's recommendations. Twenty influential nations now agree on the necessity to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030. Success hinges on securing international consensus and concrete commitments at COP28.

Only through concerted efforts can we construct an energy system that steers us in the right direction and helps correct our course towards a sustainable future.

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