WWF: Investing in Renewables Can Help Tackle Climate Change (Belgium)

WWF: Investing in Renewables Can Help Tackle Climate Change

Commenting on a report released today (10 June) by the International Energy Agency (IEA), Redrawing the energy-climate map, WWF said that, although the short-term measures proposed by the IEA to keep climate change within ‘safe’ levels were welcome, countries need to move further and faster to tackle the problem.

Samantha Smith, Leader of the WWF Global Climate & Energy Initiative, said: “This is a welcome intervention by the IEA, particularly the focus on energy efficiency standards for lighting, cars and appliances as well as cutting methane losses in oil and gas production.

“Unfortunately, the other policies are incomplete, not ambitious enough or regionally biased. With the world on track for catastrophic levels of global warming, as the IEA says, these stop-gap proposals simply don’t go far enough.

“Addressing the phase out of fossil fuel subsidies is also a critical part of the jigsaw. The IEA should back the full phasing out of all fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 globally, including in OECD countries, with the money being channelled into support schemes for renewables, energy efficiency and clean energy access for the poor in developing countries.”

Smith said that WWF’s Seize Your Power campaign, launched on 5 June, addresses these shortcomings with a clear focus on clean renewable energy instead of oil, coal or gas for further energy infrastructure investments by public and private financial institutions. The group is calling for new and additional commitments of at least $US40 billion in renewables by June 2014.

WWF Director for Global Energy Policy Dr Stephan Singer said: “Renewable energy must become the single largest recipient of new energy supply financing within the next decade in order to avoid disastrous climate change.”  


Singer said the IEA report does not go far enough on subsidy reform and is biased, as the IEA only looks at fossil fuel consumption subsidies in developing countries, the Middle East and Russia and ignores the huge subsidies in OECD states. He said International Monetary Fund (IMF) research suggested that global fossil fuel subsidies are about four times higher than those assessed by the IEA and that many OECD nations are among the top wasters of money for dirty fuels.


Singer said the IEA was missing the most important policy measure to close not only the short term 2020 climate gap but also to address climate change for the decades ahead. The group said that the IEA should back the enhanced expansion of clean renewables as an additional key policy. He said the world had a slight dip in investments in renewables in 2012 while fossil fuel investments keep on growing and are now more than three times higher. WWF strongly backed an IEA assessment from last year that in order to keep climate change below 2°C, more than two-thirds of all global fossil fuel reserves should be left in the ground. Singer said the only alternative to fill the void for the world’s continued energy supplies are clean renewables and energy efficiency.


On coal, Singer said although it was important to phase-out all inefficient coal plants, mainly in developing countries, it would be better to cut the overall coal CO2 emissions of all existing power plants by about 20% by 2020. This would be a fairer measure and include also the ‘efficient’ coal plants in many OECD nations, as coal is the single largest climate polluter and its non-CO2 emissions have huge health implications for people.


Press release, June 10, 2013; Image: arctictravel