Greater renewables rollout ‘vital’ to meet Paris goals

Generating more electricity from renewable sources will be “vital” to achieving the goals laid down by the Paris Agreement, according to the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC).

The commission – which brings together 27 environmental and clean energy thinkers, including former United States Vice President Al Gore, British economist Lord Nicholas Stern, and former president of Mexico Felipe Calderon – analysed the Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution (INDC) outlined by 16 countries and the European Union (EU) at the COP21 meeting in France.

The ETC, which is sponsored by Shell, said the share of low-carbon energy sources in the supply mix needs to increase by at least one percentage point per year until 2050, compared with the 0.9% per annum chalked up over the past 35 years.

But the commission warned the INDCs it had analysed would only increase the use of renewables by 0.4% per year.

Policies needed

The ETC concluded that market forces alone wouldn’t be enough to bring about the transition and that policies and price signals from government were also needed along with financial investment and new technologies.

Lord Adair Turner, Chairman of the ETC, said: “There is fantastic progress being made in renewable electricity, with cost reductions which have exceeded the expectations of five or six years ago.

“Although that's incredibly important and optimistic, it's not enough in itself because electricity is only 20% of global energy demand.”

More than electricity

Improvements in energy productivity – or the amount of economic output achieved per unit of energy consumed – would also be required, the ETC said.

Energy productivity must rise by 3% per year until 2050, compared with just 0.8% per year between 1980 and 2014.

The INDCs analysed only account for a 1.8% per year increase.

> Download the analysis