Low carbon infrastructure scale-up could revive economy, post-pandemic

Advancing the renewable energy transition is key to meeting international climate goals and boosting economic growth, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has said.

On 20 April, IRENA published its first Global Renewables Outlook, in which it set out how the health, humanitarian, social and economic crises that have been caused by the coronavirus pandemic will require a large-scale response. Advancing investment in low carbon technologies could prove the solution, it said, with its proposals promising “more jobs, higher economic growth, cleaner living conditions and significantly improved welfare”.

IRENA set out that while a pathway to deeper decarbonisation calls for a total energy investment of around $130tn, the socio-economic gains of this investment would be substantial, including cumulative global GDP gains above business-as-usual of $98tn – 2.4% higher than its current trajectory – between today and 2050, a quadrupling of renewable energy jobs to 42mn, employment in energy efficiency expanding to 21mn and a further 15mn in system flexibility.

IRENA 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.”