The use of renewable energy sources needs to increase in heating, cooling and transport while fossil fuels need a total lockdown to efficiently fight against the global climate crisis, a new report from REN21 revealed on Tuesday.
According to REN21's Renewables 2020 Global Status Report (GSR), although renewable power has significantly grown over the last five years, not enough is being done for heating, cooling and transport.
"The journey towards climate disaster continues, unless we make an immediate switch to efficient and renewable energy in all sectors in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic," the report warned.
REN21's Executive Director Rana Adib said that renewables in power generation are beating all other fuels in terms of growth and competitiveness but that more needs to be done and as a start, she recommended the halt of home heating and driving of cars run on fossil fuels.
"Many national and global organizations already cry victory. But our report sends a clear warning that the progress in the power sector is only a small part of the picture. And it is eaten up as the world’s energy hunger continues to increase. If we do not change the entire energy system, we are deluding ourselves," she cautioned.
According to the report, the total final energy demand is still on the rise and despite significant progress in renewable power generation; the share of renewables in total final energy demand has barely increased. Compared to the power sector, the heating, cooling and transport sectors are lagging far behind.
The share of renewables in the power generation sector of 26% is much greater than that of heating and cooling at 10% and transport at 3%, the report showed.
It underlined that today’s progress is largely the result of policies focused on the power section, which were initiated years.
REN21 advised that new policies are needed to create the right market conditions against the major barriers that still exist a decade later in the heating, cooling and transport sectors.
- Once-in-a-lifetime chance for transition to low-carbon economy
Adib stated that economic recovery packages to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic offer a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make the shift to a low-carbon economy. She cautioned about the “great risk for this enormous chance to be lost.”
"Many of these packages include ideas that will instead lock us further into a dirty fossil fuel system. Some directly promote natural gas, coal or oil. Others, though claiming a green focus, build the roof and forget the foundation," she noted.
She urged for the ending of this kind of support to the fossil economy, particularly for heating, cooling and transport.
“Governments need to radically change the market conditions and rules and demonstrate the same leadership as during the COVID-19 pandemic," she said.
Meeting the Paris Agreement targets would require an annual decrease of at least 7.6% in carbon emissions over the next 10 years.
She affirmed that even if the lockdowns were to continue for a decade, the change would not be sufficient.
"At the current pace, with the current system and current market rules, it would take the world forever to come anywhere near a no-carbon system," Adib added.
REN21 is the only global community of renewable energy actors from science, academia, governments, NGOs and industry across all renewable energy sectors. Over 350 experts have co-authored the Renewables Global Status Report
By Gulsen Cagatay and Nuran Erkul Kaya