How a $130 trillion global economic recovery plan based on green infrastructure would save money and revitalize nations

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated lives and crippled economies worldwide, but directing stimulus funds towards green infrastructure would help countries supercharge their recovery, become more resilient and save trillions of dollars long-term.

Those are some of the conclusions in Global Renewables Outlook: Energy transformation 2050, the latest report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The report says that current global investment plans will cost $95 trillion dollars to maintain a course of “business as usual”, while a decarbonization path totalling $110 trillion would create “massive” socioeconomic gains, generating savings of between $50 trillion and $142 trillion by 2050.

The recommended strategy would create a global GDP increase 2.4% higher than would be achieved under current plans. Such a drive would also quadruple renewable energy jobs to 42 million, and add tens of millions more jobs in related sectors. The report calculates the transformation plan would produce a 13.5% rise in global welfare indicators such as health and education.

The Director General of IRENA, Francesco La Camera, said “We are now insisting that we can work in a way that can connect the short-term response to COVID-19 with the long-term provision of an economy that can be healthy, wealthy, and give opportunities to everyone.

The key strategy outlined in the report, dubbed the Transforming Energy Scenario, aims to produce a 70% cut in global carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, which the authors claim will be sufficient to keep global warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, in line with the Paris Agreement.

A more ambitious Deeper Decarbonization plan, also budgeted in the report, would cost a colossal $130 trillion, but would accrue even larger dividends while keeping warming within the Paris Agreement’s recommended ceiling of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

See full report (PDF).

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