Disentangling the 2030 global renewable energy target
The 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) of the UNFCCC is set to discuss the proposal of tripling renewable energy capacity globally by 2030.
GS – 02, GS – 03 (Important International Institutions, Conservation)
Is the global target of tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030 a feasible and equitable goal, and how does it impact different countries? (150 words)
Dimensions of the Article:
- Understanding the Global Target
- Diverse Electricity Demands
- Disparities in Contribution
- The Origin of the Global Target
- The Pitfall of Absolute Projections
- Targets for the Developed World
The Global Target:
- 2021: Renewable energy sources (RES) accounted for 28% of total electricity generation globally, with hydropower, solar, and wind being the major contributors.
- Tripling renewable energy (RE) capacity by 2030 would require adding approximately 6000 GW, primarily from solar and wind sources.
- This goal implies generating about 13,000 TWh of electricity from RES alone, constituting 38% of total global electricity production.
Diverse Electricity Demands:
- Global electricity demand is not uniform but varies across countries. Developing nations currently experience rapid electricity demand growth, while developed countries show slower growth or even decline.
- For instance, China and India have witnessed annual electricity consumption growth rates of 6.6% and 6.3%, respectively, while the European Union (EU) and the United States have seen minimal growth. Addressing this diversity is crucial in achieving the tripling target.
Disparities in Contribution:
- To meet the target, different countries would need to make varying contributions. The U.S. and the EU, with low electricity demand growth and significant non-renewable energy capacity, must accelerate phasing out fossil fuels to meet their share of the goal.
- Meanwhile, India, with substantial electricity demand growth, would need to contribute significantly to reach the target. In a scenario where fossil fuels are phased out entirely in the U.S. and the EU, they would need to add substantial RE capacity, which aligns better with their fair share of the burden and allows developing countries a smoother transition.
The Origin of the Global Target:
- The source of the proposed RE global target is the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which advocates for tripling renewable power capacity to over 11 TW by 2030.
- IRENA’s scenario closely resembles the inequitable scenario outlined earlier, raising concerns about transparency and equity in the global target.
The Pitfall of Absolute Projections:
- Absolute projections of installed RE capacity fail to consider the growth in energy demand. Relative targets prove less risky as they depend less on demand matching expectations.
- Moreover, the burden of such a massive RE capacity increase falling on developing countries is unrealistic without substantial non-RE capacity for stability and viable storage options. Building national grids to handle this capacity is also challenging, given inadequate climate finance.
Targets for the Developed World:
- Interestingly, the most vocal proponents of the global RE target lack such targets domestically. While India announced an ambitious goal at COP26, the U.S. and the EU rely on market signals rather than absolute targets.
- This raises questions about the commitment of developed nations to global sustainability.
- Developing countries, particularly India, should only consider the global RE capacity target if developed nations commit to equitable absolute targets within their own borders.
- These targets should reflect their historical responsibilities and align with the principles of fairness and equity outlined in the Paris Agreement.
- The global target of tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030 is a challenging endeavor with significant disparities among nations.
- A more equitable and realistic approach requires developed countries to adopt absolute targets and share the responsibility of achieving this crucial goal.
- Achieving global sustainability demands collective effort and commitment from all nations, without leaving the burden disproportionately on developing nations.