Executive Director of Systems Change, Climate Group
With the era of cheap fossil fuels now over, world leaders must grasp the opportunities presented by ready-to-use renewable technologies.
It’s not only the general public that wants to see more renewables. There is a growing corporate movement calling for greater access to renewable electricity as well, with billions of dollars in investment up for grabs. The countries with the most advanced global economies — the G20 — have the responsibility and resources to be at the forefront of this drive for renewable power.
Energy-related CO2 emissions make up 80% of G20 countries’ greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). As such, these major economies bear an overwhelming responsibility to act on the climate crisis and showcase leadership in the renewable energy transition.
By changing policies and energy infrastructure, as well as delivering adequate levels of financing, many countries can significantly increase their attractiveness for corporate sourcing of renewable power. This will help to counter the issue that many of these economies — even those claiming to be leaders in renewable installations — are still heavily investing in fossil fuels or delaying the closure of fossil fuel generators.
While the cost of living and fuel crises have exacerbated these delays, and short-term solutions are a priority for many countries looking to make it through winter, an acknowledgement of past mistakes has not been forthcoming. Had G20 countries made bolder moves earlier — for example, to accelerate the installation of renewables — then we’d be in a better position than we are now.
We have less than 10 years to halve emissions to prevent disastrous levels of global warming.
As we start a new COP cycle and look towards COP28 next year, the key task that emerges for all countries is to align their high-level renewable ambition with developments on the ground. This includes a strong corporate sourcing movement, to keep incentivising changes to the electricity grid. We need more in the form of roadmaps to achieving net zero, supportive policies, renewables investment and plans to enhance energy security.
Financing the transition also remains one of the key considerations, as this year’s COP showed. According to Energy Policy Tracker, since the start of 2020, the G20 has committed at least USD 470 billion to supporting fossil fuel energy; and only USD 424 billion has gone to supporting clean energy. Yet renewables have repeatedly proven themselves the cheaper, fairer energy source.
We have less than 10 years to halve emissions to prevent disastrous levels of global warming. Commitments will not deliver themselves. It is time to act.