The United Nations (UN) is calling for a complete transformation of the world’s energy system.


Clean electricity supply must double by 2030 to prevent climate change from jeopardizing global energy security, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

The energy sector is not only a major source of emissions driving climate change, but it is also vulnerable to the changes that accompany global warming, a new report from the World Meteorological Organization points out. (WMO) of the United Nations published on Tuesday.

If the world does not move quickly towards clean energy sources to slow the climate crisis, more extreme weather and water stress will put our energy security at risk and could even jeopardize our renewable energy supplies, warns the document.

« Time is not on our side, and our climate is changing before our eyes, » insists WMO chief Petteri Taalas in a statement. “We need a complete transformation of the global energy system. »

The head of the WMO recalls that the energy sector is the source of around three quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions, stressing that « the transition to clean forms of energy production (… ) and improving energy efficiency are vital”.

But, Mr Taalas warns, reaching net zero emissions by 2050 will only be possible “if we double the supply of low-emitting electricity over the next eight years”.

Net zero, or carbon neutrality, will be achieved when emissions of carbon dioxide from human activities are balanced globally by removals of CO2 over a given period.

Water stress

This WMO State of Climate Services report, an annual document that this year focuses on energy, highlights the growing importance of access to reliable weather, water and climate information and services to ensure the resilience of energy infrastructure and meet growing demand.

The impact of weather, water and climate events — made more extreme, more frequent and more intense by global warming — on the reliability of energy access is already notable, notes the WMO in its report.

As an example, the organization cites the massive power outages caused by a historic heat wave in Buenos Aires in January.

In 2020, 87% of the world’s electricity produced from thermal, nuclear and hydroelectric power stations depended directly on access to water, recalls the WMO.

At the same time, a third of thermal power plants that need fresh water for their operation are in areas of high water stress, as are 15% of existing nuclear power plants – a share that is expected to reach 25% over the next 20 coming years.

Another risk run by these plants: often located on the coast, they are therefore potentially vulnerable to sea level rise and flooding.

The WMO also estimates that 11% of the world’s hydroelectric capacity is also located in areas of high water stress, while more than a quarter of existing hydroelectric dams and almost a quarter of planned dams are located in river basins. currently struggling with medium to high water scarcity, says the WMO.

Switching to renewable energy will help alleviate growing global water stress, according to the report, which notes that the amount of water used by solar and wind power is far lower than that of traditional power plants.

Invest in Africa

So far, countries’ pledges « fall far short » of what is needed to meet the targets set by the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

According to the report, global investments in renewable energy “must triple by 2050 to put the world on a net zero trajectory”.

WMO calls for more investment in clean energy in Africa. This continent, already facing massive droughts and other severe effects of climate change, has garnered just 2% of clean energy investment over the past two decades.

And yet, with 60% of the best solar resources in the world, it has the potential to become a major player in solar energy production, reports the WMO.

“Access to modern energy for all Africans requires an investment of $25 billion per year,” according to the report. This equates to about 1% of global energy investment today.

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