WBA news

2014 December 10

WBA Lima Initiative: Climate and Energy 2035

A Global Renewable Energy Action Plan (GREAP) for 2035 as a guideline for business and policy towards a world no more than 2°C warmer

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The recent reports of the IPCC (5th Assessment report) and IEA (World Energy Outlook 2014) are alarming: increasing CO2 emissions – an increasing move away from climate targets!

The logical and compelling solution to these reports is a Global Renewable Energy Action Plan (GREAP): broken down to continents, states, and regions based on the experiences gained in Europe and monitored regularly by UN bodies.

To bring the world on a road to achieving 2°C target with high probability, the global target of the GREAP should be: 
• 50% share of renewables in final energy consumption by 2035
• Reducing fossil fuel use by half in 2035 as compared to 2012

This GREAP should be a part of the negotiations to reach a climate and energy agreement in Paris. As the current energy system is the main cause of climate change, a climate package integrated with a renewable energy system is crucial!

What we have to learn from the recent global reports?
The latest IEA report - World Energy Outlook 2014 - shows that the use of fossil fuels is increasing and simultaneously the CO2 emissions. The world is moving toward being a hotter place!

Secondly, the synthesis report of the IPCC explains that the CO2 emissions have to be reduced by 40 – 70% by 2050 in order to comply with the 2°C pathway with a near-certain probability. To achieve this objective, a new policy approach has to be formulated. 

As the energy generation – based on more than 80% on fossil fuels – is the main cause for climate change, a successful climate mitigation policy is only possible if a fast transformation of the energy system can be achieved. The reduced use of fossil fuels has to be offset by better efficiency and increased use of renewable energies. 
This is possible!

Renewable Energy Sources: Abundant potential and developed technologies!
The potentials of renewables are abundant – including for wind and solar, biomass, hydro and geothermal energy. The technologies have been well developed for over 20 years. As an example, if all countries would install the same wind capacity per capita as it is installed in Denmark already, wind electricity would supply 60% of the global electricity generation in 2012.

Although the development of renewables is gaining momentum in some parts of the world, their growth globally is far too slow in order to replace fossil fuels. In the years from 2010 to 2012, wind and solar were mainly growing in USA, China, the European Union and Japan but barely growing in Africa, South America, Australia and other Asian countries. Bioenergy grew strongly in Africa and India but did not grow at all in South America and USA. Obviously, the take-off of renewables occurs very unevenly worldwide.

The climate mitigation policy can only be successful if all Renewable Energy Sources (RES) grow strongly in all parts of the world according to the regional potential. 

How to reach a fast and evenly distributed development of RES worldwide? 
The best instrument to reach this target is a Global Renewable Energy Action Plan (GREAP) broken down to continents, states and regions.

As a global target, we propose by 2035, a share of more than 50% renewables in the final energy supply and a halving the use of fossil fuels as compared to 2012 in order to follow the 2°C pathway with a high probability. These targets should be broken down to continents and national states and within states to regions. The assignment of targets to continents and states may differ strongly from this global target, depending on the state of development and potential. For some states, the use of fossil fuels might be barely reduced by 2035 as compared to 2012 while for others the reduction can be more than 50%!

This concept is not new. This approach is realized in the EU28 for the period 2010 -2020. It is successful. The European Commission could certainly contribute valuable experience in implementing such a process worldwide. The United Nations (UN) with its different sections, together with IRENA and other similar agencies, should be asked to develop a concept for a GREAP and targets for the Continental and State Plans as basis for negotiations. The progress in complying with the targets and the action plans should be monitored on a regularly basis by the UN authorities. 

This GREAP in combination with the NREAPs, (NREAP – National Renewable Energy Action Plans) should be part of the negotiations and agreement to reduce CO2 emissions and improve efficiency. The priority would be change the energy system in each country and not to increase the trading of emission rights. Each NREAP should be supplemented by an outlook towards a 100% RES world in the near future. 

What are the advantages of this approach? 
1. All governments of the world would get a clear information and motivation on how fast they have to develop RES, reduce fossil fuels and GHG emissions.
2. The fossil fuel industry would get a clear information on how much fossil fuels will be needed by 2035 and thereafter. This would help to avoid stranded investments.
3. The finance industry would get clear signals on how to direct capital streams in the future.
4. The RES industry and the private sector would get clear information about investment possibilities at home and abroad. This would trigger a boom of new investment.
5. If the transition of the energy system follows this proposal, the governments could afford to spend money in expensive technologies like Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)
6. Most important of all: the world would not pass over the 2°C target and so would avoid a climate disaster in the second half of this century.

There might be some objections that the scenarios of the IEA show a much slower growth of RES. These scenarios are not wrong, they are based on the current policies. If the policies change, the outcome of the scenarios would also change. The scenarios should not define the policies but the policy should define the assumptions for the scenarios. Many examples could be cited that RES developed faster in the last 15 years than foreseen in IEA scenarios. Also IEA cannot foresee policy changes. The GREAP and the NREAPs would deliver a better basis for scenario building.

Summary and outlook
What are the long term benefits of this approach?
At present the world is moving in the wrong direction. This can be changed, because
• There is an abundant potential of renewable energy sources
• The technologies are much better developed than ten years ago 
• The capital would be available to trigger the needed renewable energy investment if: the governments reduce the more than 500 billion $ support for fossil fuels, increase carbon taxes and allocate the saved money to RES and energy efficiency programs. The Green Climate Fund should play a central role in this policy shift.

What is needed is the political will of the governments to fight climate change!

The long run benefits of this proposal are convincing:
The world would shift to an energy mix dominated by energy sources without feedstock cost. Biomass – as stored solar energy – would complement the other renewables. It would be – after the transition to a world with 100% renewables – the only energy source with feedstock cost, but at the same time create a large number of additional jobs and improve living conditions in rural areas. 

After creating the needed investment structure, the energy would be generated at very low marginal cost and thus deliver cheap energy for everybody. In this sense, the GREAP and the deduced NREAPs would be door openers into a peaceful, sustainable and climate compatible energy future.

Fossil fuels enabled mankind’s tremendous development over the last 150 years and they will be needed for a few more decades in a declining quantity. They can be characterized as searching for energy in the earth’s crust. The future energy system can be described as turning the eyes to the skies – harvesting the abundant stream of energy sent to our planet from the sun! 

Reference: Basis for this paper were discussions and lectures during the side event: “SUCCES IN PARIS: MAPPING A PATH TOWARDS 100% RENEWABLE” on Friday 5th December LIMA at COP 20, organized by WBA and WWEA and supported by REN 21, IGA and go 100% Renewable.

Dr Heinz Kopetz, Austria
President of World Bioenergy Association (WBA)

Prof Sribas C. Bhattacharya, India
Vice president WBA,

Mr Andrew Lang, Australia
Vice president WBA

Mr Douglas Bradley, Canada
Vice president WBA,

Ms Karin Haara, Sweden
Executive Director, WBA

To download the initiative - click here.
To support the initiative - click here.