Transition to renewable energy at ‘standstill’, says report

Fossil fuels are still dominating the energy market according to a report which said the world missed a prime opportunity for a green recovery following COVID-19 lockdowns.

The Renewables 2022 Global Status Report released by global renewable energy network, REN21, showed that while global energy consumption has risen by 4% in 2021, use of renewable energy has only grown minimally.

Continued reliance on fossil fuels has led to a 6% rise in carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of two billion tonnes, while renewables accounting for just 12.6% of total final energy consumption in 2020.

Despite 135 countries having net zero targets, it was discovered major investment still goes towards fossil fuels. Subsidies worth $5.9tn were invested in the industry in 2020, while just $366bn was invested in renewables the following year.

windmills on green field under white sky during daytime

Executive Director of REN21, Rana Adib, said: ‘Despite evidence that renewables are the most affordable energy source to both improve resilience and support decarbonisation, governments across the world continue to resort to fossil fuel subsidies to keep energy bills under control. This growing gap between countries’ ambition and action on the ground is alarming and sends a clear warning that the global energy transition is not happening.

‘We now stand at a historic crossroads. Instead of continuing to support a fossil fuel-based energy order, which serves only some and triggers massive natural and economic disasters affecting all countries and citizens, we need to take bold action to phase out fossil fuels and accelerate the deployment of energy efficiency and renewables.

‘Decision makers can no longer delay the structural reforms that are urgently needed not only to preserve the climate and the environment but also to reduce the vulnerability of our economies to geopolitical threats.’

Some progress has been made, since growth in renewable power capacity reached an all-time record of 3,146 GW, growing by 17% in 2021.

The highest share of renewable energy use was found to be in the electricity sector, accounting for 28.3% of global electricity in 2021, but the majority of energy demand was met by fossil fuels.

However, transport remains to have the lowest share of renewable energy use of just 3.7%, despite electric car sales doubling in 2021 to 6.6 million worldwide.

The report said renewable energy additions would need to triple to be in line with net-zero scenarios and recommended that governments enact bold policy framework to support a shift to renewables.

Authors also said that nations should see the current energy crisis as a wake-up call to end their reliance on fossil fuels and should strengthen their energy security to develop renewable generation.

Photo by American Public Power Association


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