UN: Renewables could be 80% of energy by 2050

Renewable energy would help cut greenhouse gas emissions; political shift needed for surge in alternative energy sources.

Solar Field 311 (photo credit: Bloomberg)
Solar Field 311
(photo credit: Bloomberg)
ABU DHABI - Renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydropower could fulfil almost 80 percent of the world's energy demand by 2050 with the right policies, according to a UN report which won backing from governments on Monday.
The 26-page study, by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), broadly matched a draft written by scientists. It was approved by government delegates at talks in Abu Dhabi.
Environmental groups hailed the report as a guide to the shift from fossil fuels to combat climate change, a process set to cost trillions of dollars. But they said some draft findings were watered down, partly due to opposition by oil exporters.
"Close to 80 percent of the world energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies," the IPCC said.
The report said moves to cleaner energies including geothermal or ocean energy would help cut greenhouse gas emissions, which it blamed for global warming including floods, droughts, heat waves and rising sea levels.
Growth in renewables has already surged in recent years, and costs are falling, it said. "We see a rapid increase in wind and solar PV (photovoltaic) especially," Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, told a news conference.
"It underscores the irreplaceable potential of renewable energies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the lives of people around the world," said Christiania Figueres, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat in Bonn.
The United Nations says governments' pledges for cuts in greenhouse gases are insufficient so far to meet an agreed UN goal of limiting rises in global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F) above pre-industrial times.