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ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

Call for renewables to be a key performance indicator in all economic activities


Wind turbines and solar panels at sunset Photo: Adobe Stock
G20 countries with renewable energy targets struggled towards their goals in 2020, a new report has found

Photo: Adobe Stock

There is an alarming gap between renewables targets with actions ‘nowhere near’ the necessary paradigm shift towards a clean, healthier and more equitable energy future, according to a new global renewables report.

REN21’s Renewables 2021 global status report shows that the current share of fossil fuels in the total energy mix (80.2%) is as high as it was a decade ago (80.3%) with the renewable energy share only increased slightly. Even with the decline in energy consumption as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the five G20 countries with 2020 renewable energy targets struggled towards their goals. The other 15 did not even have one, according to the report.  


Rana Adib, REN21’s Executive Director, comments: ‘We are waking up to the bitter reality that the climate policy promises over the past 10 years have mostly been empty words. The share of fossil fuels in final energy consumption has not moved by an inch. Phasing them out and making renewables the new norm are the strongest actions we can take.’


However, the report has found that the power sector has made great progress, with almost all new power capacity renewable. More than 256 GW was added globally in 2020 – surpassing the previous record by nearly 30%. In more and more regions, including parts of China, the EU, India and the US, it is now cheaper to build new wind or solar PV plants than to operate existing coal-fired power plants. This progress could and should be replicated in all other sectors, states REN21.  


There was also a wave of stronger commitments to action on the climate crisis in 2020. This includes net zero carbon emissions targets by China, Japan and South Korea. Together with announcements of funding for a green economic recovery, this should have made 2020 the year when the world pushed the reset button for the global climate economy and renewables, the report notes. Instead of driving transformation though, recovery packages are providing six times more investment to fossil fuels than to renewable energy.


REN21 says the report shows that governments need to give a much harder push to renewables in all sectors. The window of opportunity is closing unless efforts are significantly ramped up, and it will not be easy to do. ‘Governments must not only support renewables but also rapidly decommission fossil fuel capacity,’ says Adib. ‘A good way to accelerate development is to make the uptake of renewable energy a key performance indicator for every economic activity, every budget and every single public purchase. Thus, every Ministry should have short- and long-term targets and plans to shift to renewable energy coupled with clear end-dates for fossil fuels,’ he concludes.