By Kelechukwu Iruoma, Abu Dhabi, UAE
The Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres has said that renewables are solutions to combat climate catastrophe globally, urging governments, including developing countries such as Nigeria to adopt renewables.
He said this in a video message delivered at the opening ceremony of the 13th IRENA Assembly organized as part of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, hosted by Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy developer, one of the biggest clean energy investors in the world.
With the theme, “World Energy Transition – The Global Stocktake”, Guterres said: “Only renewables can safeguard our future, close the energy access gap, stabilize prices and ensure energy security. Today, their share in global electricity is about 30 percent. That must double to over 60 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050.”
As global leaders and stakeholders plan the first Global Stocktake at COP28 later this year in UAE, Guterres worries that the world is still addicted to fossil fuels with the 1.5-degree goal fast slipping out of reach.
“Under current policies, we are headed for 2.8 degrees of global warming by the end of the century. The consequences will be devastating. Several parts of our planet will be uninhabitable. And for many, this is a death sentence,” he said.
He highlighted a five-point energy plan for a successful transition.
“First, we must remove intellectual property barriers and treat key renewable technologies, including energy storage, as global public goods. Second, we must diversify and increase access to supply chains for raw materials and components for renewables technologies, without degrading our environment. This can help create millions of green jobs, especially for women and youth in the developing world.”
“Third, decision-makers must cut the red tape, fast-track approvals for sustainable projects worldwide, and modernize grids. Fourth, energy subsidies must shift from fossil fuels to clean and affordable energy. And fifth, public and private investments in renewables should triple to at least $4 trillion a year,” he continued.
He said global leaders must all work together to reduce the capital cost for renewables, especially in developing countries such as Nigeria, and ensure that financing flows to those who need it most.
He urged multilateral development banks to play their part by investing massively in renewable energy infrastructure, taking on more risks, and leveraging private finance, adding that developed countries must work with credit agencies to scale up green investments in developing countries.
The Director-General of IRENA Francesco La Camera revealed that renewables-based energy transitions can be a powerful force for positive change, and the agenda of this Assembly is shaped with that in mind.
“With COP28 taking place in UAE, we will discuss how to align our actions around energy transition priorities to feed into the 1st Global Stocktake process that will conclude at COP28 in Dubai later this year.”
We have little time left to tackle climate change and realize the sustainable development agenda, admits La Cameraadmits.
“The intersecting crises we face demand concerted global action, grounded in multilateralism, to emerge stronger and more unified in achieving our common goals. And the IRENA Assembly provides a platform to drive a global energy agenda,” he said.
Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the Chairman of Masdar and president of the Climate Change Conference (COP28) in UAE in November 2023 reiterated the need for global leaders to embrace renewable energy to tackle climate change.
“Over the last 15 years, the UAE has invested a total of 50 billion dollars in renewable energy and plans to invest another 15 billion dollars in the years ahead. Today, over 70 percent of our [UAE] economy is generated outside the oil and gas sector,” he revealed.
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