Study finds 95% of renewable energy capacity in wealthier countries

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With the release of the long-awaited IPCC report, the race to decarbonise is on – but some countries will have an easier transition to renewable technologies, while others will put their populations and economies at risk.

Researchers Laima Eicke and Andreas Goldthau studied the differences between countries with regard to the process of decarbonization.

As the EU and US proclaim huge decarbonization targets, the UK is set to host the next COP26. The countries of the North seem well placed to invest capital in the adaptation of their infrastructures, to work towards clean energy and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, countries in the South face significant issues that come with less financial clout – namely, adapting their systems from fossil fuels while trying to start a full COVID-19 vaccination, and affording to do these. two things.

Today (August 9), the IPCC report, written over eight years by more than 700 scientists, found that it takes 20 to 30 years for global temperatures to stabilize, same whether the carbon emissions targets were met. The data suggests that unless there is a huge change in policy implementation that creates significant reductions in greenhouse gases, globally limit a continued rise in temperature “to near 1, 5 ° C or even 2 ° C will be out of range ”.

Another study found that people in Southeast Asia were at high risk of increased fatal heat waves, which would impact 60% of the population who work outdoors.

95% of renewable technologies are located in the richest countries

In this study, Eicke and Goldthau focused on the most important risks and opportunities facing countries, in relation to their progress in adopting renewable energy.

Their analysis revealed that 95% of the installed capacity of renewable energies is located in only 16% of the countries of the world, in particular in the countries of the North. However, the countries of the South are experiencing the strongest growth in energy demand and are still heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

“The gap between early and late decarbonizers is likely to worsen in the years to come, the leading players in R&D and renewable energy production generating obvious economic benefits, partly in terms of job creation” , said Laima Eicke.

“Late decarbonizers, on the other hand, face significantly higher transformation risks over the next decade, including potentially lower industrial competitiveness and a higher risk of economic instability. “

Countries in the South with economies heavily dependent on fossil fuels risk significant drawbacks, as experts now view fossil fuel technologies and infrastructure as stranded assets with no long-term prospects for profitability.

What should happen now?

Some countries will need additional help, the researchers say. Otherwise, tensions will grow between those who are ahead in the decarbonization race and those left behind in the dying fossil fuel industry.

“Uneven transition patterns can exacerbate existing tensions in international climate negotiations while triggering trade disputes,” said Andreas Goldthau.

“Governments should strive to create policy conditions that encourage decarbonization, in particular by increasing international climate finance and technology transfer. “

Read the full study here.

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