Renewables must take centre stage at Paris climate talks, says IRENA

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The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has called for renewables to be a key focus of the forthcoming climate change talks in Paris later this year.

Its appeal comes following publication of a report revealing that while more renewable energy capacity has been deployed worldwide than nuclear and fossil fuels combined for the third consecutive year, significantly more investment is needed to reverse the effects of climate change.

Renewables have accounted for “the majority of global capacity additions for the last three to four years in a row, and their market share is projected to grow further”, states the report.

“Over the span of a single decade, a virtuous circle of technological progress, falling costs and rising investment has moved renewable energy from niche to mainstream all over the world,” the report concludes.

The report points to technology advancement and rapid cost reductions for the shift. Over the last three years solar power in particularly has served as a “potent reminder of how quickly things can change; today’s emerging technology can become tomorrow’s market leader”, says the report.

The report says with investment, government policy and adaptability from the private sector the world is “standing on the brink of a new Industrial Revolution” and that “polluting and scarce, finite fuels” are to be replaced by “clean sources of abundant energy”.

But the report ‘Rethinking Energy: towards a new power system’, said that while US$200 billion is invested globally every year in renewables, more is needed to have any effect on climate change and reduce carbon emissions.

“The ongoing transformation of the global energy systems with higher shares of renewables offers ones of the most economically attractive options in the effort to decarbonise energy,” said Adnan Amin, director-general of IRENA.

However the report states if business continues as usual, worldwide efforts to reduce emissions “will not succeed”.

Governments need to “embrace a new way of thinking, and to do so immediately”; to take the renewable transformation to the next level “requires a different approach” the report says. “New policies are urgently needed to accommodate this change. Markets, business models and technologies need to adapt,” it says

“If we continue on our present path, we will not be able avoid the most serious impacts of climate change,” added Amin.

The report explains global population increase and a growing middle class will multiply energy demand, and this demand needs to be met without increasing carbon emissions.

“Renewable energy provides an answer to many of the most pressing socio-economic challenges faced by governments today, including energy access, energy security, health and environmental concerns,” said Amin.

The report was presented this week at the French Senate, with its conclusions set to be a prime focus for the UN Paris climate talks in December 2015, and also to be used at the New York climate talks this month.

French senator, Ronan Dantec, under whose patronage the report was released in the French Senate said: “Optimism must be fed by concrete dynamics and, above all, the rapid deployment of renewable energy worldwide.”

The Paris climate talks, the 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or “COP21”, will take place between 30 November and 11 December 2015.

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