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Renewable energy can support COVID-19 recovery, says IRENA

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Renewable energy can support a resilient and equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

IRENA's first Global Renewables Outlook shows that the decarbonisation of the energy system can support short-term recovery while creating 'resilient and inclusive' economies and societies. The outlook examines the building blocks of an energy system along with investment strategies and policy frameworks needed to manage the transition. It looks at ways to reduce global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by at least 70% by 2050.

The report found that a pathway to 'deeper' decarbonisation requires a total energy investment of up to $130 trillion (€119.7 trillion), the potential socio-economic gains of such an investment would be huge. IRENA says low-carbon investment would 'significantly pay off', with savings of eight times more than costs, when accounting for reduced health and environmental externalities.

According to IRENA, transforming the energy system could boost cumulative global GDP gains above business-as-usual by $98 trillion (€90.2 trillion) between now and 2050. The organisation says this would almost quadruple renewable energy jobs to 42 million, expand employment in energy efficiency to 21 million and add 15 million in system flexibility.

"Governments are facing a difficult task of bringing the health emergency under control while introducing major stimulus and recovery measures," said IRENA's director-general Francesco La Camera. "The crisis has exposed deeply-embedded vulnerabilities of the current system.

"IRENA's Outlook shows the ways to build more sustainable, equitable and resilient economies by aligning short-term recovery efforts with the medium and long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Agenda.

"By accelerating renewables and making the energy transition an integral part of the wider recovery, governments can achieve multiple economic and social objectives in the pursuit of a resilient future that leaves nobody behind."