What Will Power The Post-Pandemic Global Economic Recovery?

by GoNews Desk 1 month ago Views 3056
As governments try to kick-start their economies, the UN is calling for recovery plans to be built around low-carbon technologies, to avoid a return to fossil-fuel based business as usual.

Islands at the forefront

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Some of the countries and regions at the forefront of this wholescale shift to renewables are islands, where the need to avoid the significant cost of importing fossil fuels, such as oil and gas, provides added motivation.

Mauritius, for example, is planning to generate over a third of its electricity from renewable sources within the next five years. Projects supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), will be an important part of this transition, bringing an additional 25 Mega Watts of solar power to Mauritius, including a mini-power grid in Agalega, one of the outer islands.

(Coastal communities, like Port Sud-Est in Mauritius, are exposed to the adverse impacts of climate change. Credit: UNDP Mauritius/Stephane Bellero)

As well as reducing pollution, this shift to clean energy is expected to aid economic recovery, with new jobs in areas such as the production, installation, and maintenance of renewable energy equipment, from solar panel, to batteries and wind turbines.

Another added benefit is energy security: with such a high dependence on imported oil, price fluctuations can make budgeting difficult, and any interruption to supply can have serious consequences. “Home-grown” energy from renewable sources can make the energy grid more reliable, and more resilient.

The Pacific US State of Hawaii is planning to go even further and become a trailblazer for the rest of the United States, by going completely renewable by 2045. As Hawaii State Governor, David Ige, explained to UN News, their commitment is now moving to the mainstream: “at the time we enacted the law to commit to 100 per cent renewables, no other community had done anything similar and at the National Governors’ Association, people were generally very surprised.

They thought that it was so beyond possible that it was a foolish undertaking. Now, California has embraced the commitment to 100 per cent clean renewable energy and other states are contemplating doing the same. I’m proud that Hawaii has really inspired other states and communities.”

Time to change the entire energy system

As economies recover post-pandemic, following these examples will be essential to turn the tide and, as a new report from REN21 – a renewable energy think tank that includes the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN Development Programme (UNDP) amongst its members – shows, remarkable progress has been made by the renewable energy industry, where costs are falling, and clean energy use has increased.

However, this good news is currently offset by the fact that global energy use is rising, and is being powered, in the main, by fossil fuels. Following the release of the report, on 16 June, Rana Adib, REN21’s Executive Director, underlined the fact that the pandemic-related emissions drop barely makes a dent in the long-term problem of climate change, and an overhaul of the entire energy system is needed:

“Even if the lockdowns were to continue for a decade, the change would not be sufficient. At the current pace, with the current system and current market rules, it would take the world forever to come anywhere near a no-carbon system", said Adib.

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