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Power Sector Must Double Renewables Investment to Hit COP21 Targets, Says IEA Chief

The executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Monday said that the global power sector needs to double its investment in renewables if it is to meet the Paris climate goals.

Speaking at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, Fatih Birol said that last year the entire budget of the global power sector was $1.8 trillion and added, “I’m afraid only 16 percent of that went on renewables and energy efficiency.”

“The rest goes mainly on oil and gas and other energy sources. In order to reach the targets that we agreed in Paris we need renewables,” he said.

He added that the business case for renewables was more solid than ever. “Renewable energy is becoming cheaper,” he said. “Our numbers at the IEA give us a lot of hope.”

He highlighted that last year, more than 50 percent of global new power generation capacity added last years was renewable.

“The others, coal, plus oil, plus gas, plus nuclear all put together were less than renewables,” he said. “This shows us that renewables is not a romantic story any more, it’s a business.”

But he stressed that “renewables alone cannot bring us to our two degrees target. We need energy efficiency policies — they will deliver.”

And he said that “we need other energy sources,” highlighting that nuclear and natural gas both have a role to play alongside renewables.

“It would be wrong to tell the world about just one single fuel,” he said. “We need to provide a package according to the need.”

He stressed that the “challenge for all of us is, how do we find an optimal energy policy” that covers climate change, energy security and energy efficiency?

Lead image credit: IAEA Imagebank | Flickr