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Carbon Phaseout by 2060 Would Have ‘Net Positive’ Economic Impact: IRENA

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The global growth rate for renewable energy must double and total investment will have to hit $29 trillion by mid-century to cut energy-related carbon dioxide emissions 70% by 2050 and phase them out by 2060. But the target is achievable and its economic impact is “net positive”, according to research released in Berlin this morning by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The report appears just days after the International Energy Agency announced that the world’s energy-related CO2 emissions held steady last year for the third year in a row, with China and the U.S. showing reductions and European emissions holding steady. But IRENA says that’s just a start.

“The economic case for the energy transition has never been stronger,” IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin said in a release. “Today around the world, new renewable power plants are being built that will generate electricity for less cost than fossil fuel power plants. And through 2050, the decarbonization can fuel sustainable economic growth and create more new jobs in renewables.”

The net result is that “we are in a good position to transform the global energy system, but success will depend on urgent action,” he said.

In its release, IRENA notes that the $29-trillion price tag for the energy transition envisions would equal 0.4% of global GDP through 2050. Combined with other pro-growth policies, the agency says the off-carbon transition will expand the global economy by 0.8% in 2050, produce more than enough jobs to offset those lost in the fossil industries, and “improve human welfare through important additional environmental and health benefits thanks to reduced air pollution.

IRENA’s energy transition roadmap, REmap, shows “significant energy efficiency improvements” keeping global demand at about 2015 levels in 2050. “The supply mix, however, would change substantially, with the share of renewables in total primary energy supply reaching two-thirds by 2050,” the agency states.

IRENA adds that “subsidies that sustain ageing conventional energy industries should be abandoned in order to level the playing field. Modern energy access, fair competition, and sustainable development need to underpin energy policy-making.”