The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a paper on the potential of renewable energy and its impacts on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are believed to contribute to global climate change. The report found that close to 80 percent of the world’s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if supported by the right policies.
More than 120 researchers worked with IPPC on the report, “Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN),” and the findings also indicate that the rising penetration of renewable energies could lead to cumulative GHG savings of 220 to 560 gigatonnnes of carbon dioxide between 2010 and 2050.
“With consistent climate and energy policy support, renewable energy sources can contribute substantially to human well-being by sustainably supplying energy and stabilizing the climate,” said Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, Co-Chair of Working Group III at the report launch. “However, the substantial increase of renewables is technically and politically very challenging.”
According to a news release, the upper end of the scenarios assessed, representing a cut of around a third in GHGs from business-as-usual projections, could assist in keeping concentrations of greenhouse gases at 450 parts per million. If this were the case, it could help to hold the increase in global average temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius, a goal laid out in the Cancun Agreements (COP-16).
Youba Sokona, Co-Chair of the Working Group III, said: “The potential role of renewable energy technologies in meeting the needs of the poor and in powering the sustainable growth of developing and developed economies can trigger sharply polarized views. This IPCC report has brought some much needed clarity to this debate in order to inform governments on the options and decisions that will needed if the world is to collectively realize a low carbon, far more resource efficient and equitable development path.”
The six renewable energy technologies reviewed were bioenergy, solar energy, geothermal energy, hydropower, ocean energy and wind energy. The report, which is a summary of a longer, 900 plus page research document, will feed into the broader work of the IPPC as they prepare its Fifth Assessment Report that is scheduled to be released in September 2014.