Renewable energy is critical to climate change mitigation, says IEA

To highlight the important role that renewable energy “must play” in achieving the objectives of climate change mitigation, IEA will present data from its scenario analysis and energy technology roadmaps at three separate side events during the UN climate conference (COP15).

It has scheduled ‘IEA Sustainable Energy Policy & Technology Day’ for 16 December; a ‘World Energy Outlook 2009' briefing on 17 December; and a joint event on 15 December with the newly-created International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), IEA’s Renewable Energy Technology Deployment Implementing Agreement, the European Renewable Energy Council and Greenpeace.

IEA’s latest World Energy Outlook says renewable energy will be the second largest contributor (after energy efficiency) to the reduction of energy-related CO2 emissions by 2030. A range of renewable energy technologies will offset the annual emission of 3100 megatonne (Mt), or 23% of the total CO2 reductions necessary to stabilise CO2 concentration at levels to hold global long-term temperature increase to 2ºC.

The increasing role of renewable energy will be particularly significant in the power sector, and IEA will use their sessions at COP15 to explain in detail what steps will be needed to achieve the full potential of renewable energy around the world.

IEA will also use COP15 as a venue to present results from recent studies on implementing energy efficiency as a key to a sustainable energy future. The agency will provide details on the steps needed to capture the “huge potential” of efficiency to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and to reduce GHG emissions.

IEA suggests that 57% of cost-effective GHG abatement potential should come from energy efficiency, and IEA member countries have committed to ensure “a co-ordinated, efficient approach to promoting energy efficiency.” It recently suggested a set of 25 energy efficiency policy recommendations which, if implemented globally, could save 8200 Mt of CO2 emissions a year by 2030.

The climate change negotiations have focused on creation, expansion and improvement of the global carbon market through mechanisms such as cap-and-trade and sectoral approaches. To achieve these goals, a number of key low-carbon technologies such as renewable energy need to be rapidly developed, demonstrated and commercialised.

These technologies include offshore wind energy, advanced solar energy, sustainable biofuels, electric vehicles, carbon capture & storage, and fully-integrated energy efficiency, and the IEA is developing a series of Energy Technology Roadmaps to provide strategic guidance for advancing these technologies. Each roadmap will contain technology-specific analysis of investment needs, policy frameworks, technology development and public engagement milestones and actions that are needed to deliver renewable energy and low-carbon potential by 2050.

“Electricity is the largest, fastest-growing emitter of energy-related CO2,” the IEA explains. “Urgent action is needed to curb the growth in power-related CO2 emissions in the developing world” and the agency will explain in Copenhagen how new climate policy options can address this problem.