There are multiple drivers of the global energy transformation, as shown below in Figure.
However, the reduction of carbon emissions is at the heart of IRENA’s analysis, given the urgent need to swiftly reduce the emissions that cause climate change. The Paris Agreement establishes a clear goal to limit the increase of global temperature to “well below” 2°C, and ideally to 1.5 °C, compared to pre-industrial levels, during this century.
To realise this climate target, a profound transformation of the global energy landscape is essential. The world must urgently shift away from the consumption of fossil fuels and towards cleaner renewable forms of energy by rapidly replacing conventional fossil fuel generation and uses with low-carbon technologies.
IRENA’s roadmaps offer an ambitious yet technically and economically feasible pathway for accomplishing this energy transformation and creating a more sustainable clean energy future. To meet the aims of the Paris Agreement, energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2 ) emissions need to be reduced by a minimum of 3.8% per year from now until 2050, with continued reductions thereafter. However, trends over the past five years show annual growth in CO2 emissions of 1.3%. If this pace were maintained, the planet’s carbon budget would be largely exhausted by 2030, setting the planet on track for a temperature increase of more than 3°C above pre-industrial levels with potentially catastrophic consequences. This case also would mean that governments were failing to meet the commitments they made in signing the Paris Agreement.