Ahead of the COP27 Climate Change Summit, which starts next week, experts have intensified their calls to invest in renewable energy instead of fossil fuels, which are the main cause of greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and climate change.
In its 2022 “State of Climate Services” report, which focuses on energy, the World Meteorological Organization says that countries must triple their current investments in renewable energy sources by 2050 if the world is to reach net zero emissions by then.
It adds that the amount of electricity generated from clean energy sources must be doubled over the next eight years to limit the significant risks that climate change and extreme weather pose to energy security and people’s lives.
The energy sector is the source of around three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions, the report says. Maximising the use of renewable energy in the supply of electricity will improve air quality, conserve water resources, protect the environment, and generate job opportunities, it adds.
‘A Tremendous Opportunity’
Roberta Boscolo, a climate and energy scientific officer at the World Meteorological Organisation and a contributor to the report, says that climate investment in energy supplies averaged $324 billion annually in 2020-2021.
“The conference hosted by Egypt this month is a tremendous opportunity for all key actors in the fields of technology, politics and finance to agree on more effective measures for decarbonisation and accelerating the transition to renewable energy.”Roberta Boscolo, a climate and energy science officer at the World Meteorological Organization
“For this purpose, the current levels of investments in renewable energy must be tripled to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” she wrote.
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today is about 50 percent higher than its level in the pre-industrial era, Boscolo said.
“The conference hosted by Egypt this month is a tremendous opportunity for all key actors in the fields of technology, politics and finance to agree on more effective measures for decarbonisation and accelerating the transition to renewable energy.”
An African Climate Summit
COP27, which is sometimes called the “African COP”, will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, from November 6 to 18.
Support for African and other developing countries should be at the forefront of the summit’s discussions, Boscolo says.
These countries have huge natural resources of solar energy, wind energy, and waterpower, she said, but they face weak financial capabilities, which hinders investment in clean energy projects, as well as the lack of technology, which exacerbates the lack of skilled and qualified workers.
“What is missing is the international community’s commitment to its financial pledges. This financing should not be in the form of loans all the time, as developing countries cannot bear more debt burdens. Part of it can be through grants or direct partnerships.”Hisham Issa, former Egyptian coordinator for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
“So, it is the responsibility of developed countries to help fill these gaps, especially with our recent report that Africa emits less than 3 percent of the world’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions and has the lowest per capita emissions,” Boscolo said.
“However, the continent has a very small percentage of modern renewable energy systems, and its share of global investment in renewable energy is only 2 percent.”
Boscolo also pointed out that the global impact of the Russian war in Ukraine and other geopolitical instabilities highlight the urgent need for energy security, and the importance of the transition towards renewable energy.
Financing Renewable Energy Projects
Hisham Issa, former Egyptian coordinator for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, says that renewable energy projects are the main area for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, yet they require very huge investments to initiate, and their presence in developing countries is linked to getting the necessary financing.
A member of the Union of Arab Environmental Experts, Issa told Al-Fanar Media that under the Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, developed countries had agreed to grant developing countries $100 billion a year by 2020 to reduce carbon emissions and set up projects to adapt to climate change. This pledge has not yet been fully met, he said.
Issa emphasised that African countries have huge natural potential for renewable energy generation.
“We are working to overcome the challenges of energy storage capacities, to provide financing and technology to support these projects, and to have trained technicians.”Mohamed El-Sobki, former head of Egypt’s New and Renewable Energy Authority
“What is missing is the international community’s commitment to its financial pledges,” he said. “This financing should not be in the form of loans all the time, as developing countries cannot bear more debt burdens. Part of it can be through grants or direct partnerships.”
Similarly, Mohamed El-Sobky, a professor of energy engineering and former head of Egypt’s New and Renewable Energy Authority, says that providing financing is the main solution to give developing countries an opportunity to increase their investments in renewable energy and benefit from their vast natural resources.
El-Sobky told Al-Fanar Media that establishing online interconnected networks between countries was necessary to overcome challenges related to the constant availability of renewable energy.
“Natural energy sources are not equally available in all countries and vary according to geographical location,” he said. “Through such networks, energy can be secured for all.”
As an example of a constantly available renewable energy source in his country, El-Sobky pointed out that Egypt is currently working on generating energy from the wind with different types of turbines. There has already been a tangible shift towards the use of renewable energy, he said, and he expects it to compete with traditional fossil-generated energies in the future.
“We are working to overcome the challenges of energy storage capacities, to provide financing and technology to support these projects, and to have trained technicians,” he concluded.
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Read more about COP27, climate change, and the quest to develop renewable energy sources in Climate and Environment, an archive of Al-Fanar Media’s reporting on these topics.