Director for Planning and Programming at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Elizabeth Press, provides her take on renewables in the current COVID-19 crisis and contextualizes key findings from IRENA’s Global Renewables Outlook, which shows the gains to be had by transforming the energy system in an inclusive manner.
Do you believe climate policies are taking the backseat due to the COVID-19 crisis?
The COVID-19 crisis does not change the existential path required to decarbonize our societies and meet sustainability goals. The immediate priority is understandably for people’s health and safety, and the security of their livelihoods, but green stimulus and recovery packages are feasible and necessary to avoid the type of social and economic catastrophe that climate change threatens.
The long-term planning and positive momentum that exists in the global energy transformation mean that the renewables and energy transitions trends will continue. Today, renewables account for 1/3 of global power capacity and annual capacity additions from renewables are regularly outpacing those from conventional fuels. Much of this change has been driven by the strong business case of renewables. And we have seen this during the past few months when renewables were the fuel of choice in the time of crisis.