Renewable energy could fuel a post-VID-19 economic recovery by boosting global GDP by nearly US$100 trillion ('92.5 trillion) by 2050. This is an official report from the International Renewable Energy Agency, which states that accelerating investment in green energy could generate huge economic benefits while helping to address the global climate emergency.
The agency's director general, Francesco La Camera, explains that the global crisis triggered by the coronavirus epidemic has revealed "the profound vulnerabilities of the current system". He urges governments to invest in renewable energy to boost economic growth and help meet climate goals.
Investment in renewable energy would increase global GDP by $98 trillion by 2050 compared to a business-as-usual scenario. This investment would be particularly profitable, with a return of between $3 and $8 for every dollar invested.
The plan would also quadruple the number of jobs in the sector to 42 million over the next 30 years and measurably improve global health and well-being outcomes, according to the report. " Governments are faced with the difficult task of containing the health emergency while at the same time introducing significant stimulus and recovery measures," said Francesco La Camera. " By accelerating renewable energy and making the energy transition an integral part of overall recovery, governments can achieve multiple economic and social goals in the pursuit of a resilient future that leaves no one behind."Renewable energy could curb the rise in global temperatures by helping to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the energy industry by 70 %The report also found that renewable energy could curb the rise in global temperatures by helping to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the energy industry by 70% by 2050 by replacing fossil fuels. Renewables could play a greater role in reducing carbon emissions from heavy industry and transport to near-zero emissions by 2050, including by investing in green hydrogen.
This clean fuel, which can replace fossil gas in steel and cement manufacturing, could be made using large amounts of clean electricity to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen elements.
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Andrew Steer, Executive Director of the World Resources Institute, defines the issue: " As the world seeks to recover from the current health and economic crises, we are faced with a choice: we can pursue a modern, clean and healthy energy system, or we can return to the old, polluting ways of doing business. We have to choose the former."
The call for a green economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis follows a warning from Fatih Birol, director of the International Energy Agency, that government policies must be put in place to avoid a disruption of investment in the energy transition. " We must not allow the current crisis to undermine the transition to clean energy," he said. " We have an important window of opportunity."
Ignacio Galán, the CEO of Spanish renewable energy giant Iberdrola, claims to be a role model, saying his company would continue to invest billions in renewables as well as power grids and batteries to help integrate clean energy into electricity. " A green recovery is essential as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis. The world will reap economic, environmental and social benefits by focusing on clean energy," he said. " Aligning economic stimulus measures and policy agendas with climate goals are essential to ensure a healthy and sustainable economy for the long term."
This article originally appeared in The Guardian is republished here as part of UP' Magazine's partnership with Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 400 selected media outlets to strengthen news coverage of climate change.