80% of energy through renewables by 2050

31 May 2011 | News story

The world can be powered by more renewable energy and we don’t need to delay the transition to more sustainable energy sources, says IUCN.

IUCN strongly supports the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in their Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation, the full version of which is being launched today.

In 2008, we sourced 13% of energy from renewables. But the IPCC report says that nearly 80% of our energy needs – including rising demand in developing countries – can be met by 2050 through renewable energy sources. It concludes that in order to get there, governments need to lead the way and set policies that encourage technology transfer, awareness raising and financing.

“This report is great news for the planet and people, as well as for our climate,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General of IUCN. “As the energy debate is picking up again in many countries around the world, IUCN urges governments to build on the findings of the report and quickly put in place the policies that create a truly green economy.”

“We don’t need to wait for new inventions -- the global shift towards clean energy can be achieved with the sustainable application of existing technologies such as bioenergy, solar, wind and hydropower,” adds Marton-Lefèvre.

The report says that the main barriers are socio-economic, not technical. In some cases renewable energy is already economically competitive with fossil fuel sources.

However, according to IUCN, if a cash value for environmental impacts such as pollution and greenhouse gases was included in energy prices, and existing fossil fuel subsidies eliminated, more renewable energy technologies would be economically attractive. As the report concedes, all energy options including renewable ones, can impact negatively on biodiversity, water and people.

“The environmental community must work with the renewable energy industry in effectively managing the environmental and social impacts of energy options to help it understand, avoid and manage risks,” says Juan Marco Alvarez, Director of the IUCN Economy and Environmental Governance Group. “We must ensure that renewable energy is developed in the right places, meaning not just technically and financially, but also environmentally and socially.”

Renewable energy has an important contribution, alongside sustainable land-use, to reduce the impacts of climate change. The IPCC report also has an important message for the more than two billion people who lack access to basic energy services by pointing out that the developing world is home to more than 50% of the capacity for renewable electricity. This now sets the stage for the UN International Year for Sustainable Energy for All in 2012.

For more information please contact
Borjana Pervan, Media Relations, t +41 229990115, e borjana.pervan @iucn.org