IRENA Assembly to build energy transition momentum post-COP26

The 12th Session of the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) Assembly opens today, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Assembly represents the first high-level meeting of the global energy and environment community of the year and will serve as a follow up to the energy transition commitments made, and the momentum generated in 2021.

The two-day meeting, IRENA said in a statement on Wednesday, will bring together virtually more than 1,100 delegates from 137 countries including Heads of State, Ministers, Heads of International Organisations and CEOs.

The meeting themed, “Energy Transition: From Commitment to Action,” reflects the growing need to translate bold ambition into concrete steps that accelerate the shift to a cleaner, fairer and more resilient energy system.

Commenting, IRENA’s Director-General, Francesco La Camera, said: “With every passing year the gravity of the challenge ahead of us strengthens. As we meet for this Assembly, we do so clear in the knowledge that 2021 established new benchmarks in ambition, commitment, and renewable energy deployment globally. That momentum must serve as fuel as we head into the New Year.”

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, Ms Alexandra Hill Tinoco, will be President of the Assembly.

“As a global actor in the fight against climate change and a leader in renewable energy deployment, El Salvador is honoured to be presiding over IRENA’s Assembly in 2022,” said Tinoco.

She added that “Our meeting this year is an opportunity to tangibly contribute to our common goals. Renewable energy uptake has to be an intrinsic part of our action agenda. It is essential to the future of our planet.”

According to IRENA’s World Energy Transitions Outlook report, successfully decarbonising the global energy system by 2050 in line with the achievement of the 1.5°C goal, requires steep and rapid declines in energy-related emissions this decade.

By 2030, total global renewable energy capacity should reach 10 700 GW – close to a four-fold increase on the current capacity. Last year, the world installed a record 260 gigawatts of renewables, close to 50% more than the previous record.

A published report just ahead of the Assembly entitled Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and Renewable Energy Targets in 2021 highlights that only 144 NDCs out of the 182 submitted include quantified renewable energy targets and only 30 explicitly mention heating, cooling or transport.

As we meet for this Assembly, we do so clear in the knowledge that 2021 established new benchmarks in ambition, commitment, and renewable energy deployment globally.

Net Zero

If implemented, current targets, including ambitious net zero announcements and planned methane emission reductions, would only limit global warming to 1.8˚C by 2050 the report notes. Updated NDCs must better reflect renewable energy potential and climate goals.

La Camera noted that “The fact that three quarters of the global emissions are now covered by net zero ambitions demonstrates the extent to which Glasgow realigned the world’s perspectives on what is possible and narrowed the gap with what is necessary”

He continued: “But we are still far from moving quickly enough. The real hard work starts now in mobilising investment and shaping policy environments to stimulate a faster and more geographically balanced energy transition.”

The global event, taking place at the start of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), will feature a high-level follow up on COP26, and the launch of two key IRENA reports on Africa and the geopolitics of hydrogen.

Deliberations will also touch on the role of youth in the energy transition, and feature perspectives on the energy transition from parliamentarians and the private sector.

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