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US, Brazil, Canada lagging in shift to clean energy, International Renewable Energy Agency warns

International Renewable Energy Agency partners with World Economic Forum to support sustainable energy’s future.


The United States, Brazil and Canada are making virtually no progress in moving to renewable energy sources, the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) has claimed.

The agency is partnering with the World Economic Forum to progress a sustainable energy future through the adoption of new technology, financing and ambitious policy frameworks. It said energy transformation is at the heart of economic recovery in the coronavirus era.


The organisations will work to advance the necessary global energy transition, decarbonize harder-to-abate sectors, scale up the deployment of clean technologies and improve the energy literacy of decision-makers and the public.


The Forum’s Energy Transition Index (ETI) this year found that Covid-19 could threaten the rate at which economies adopt more sustainable energy. It recommended the need for robust long-term policies to protect against shocks such as the pandemic and climate change.

Irena’s Post-Covid-19 Recovery Agenda demonstrated that while renewables have proved to be resilient throughout the crisis, targeted policy action and investment in energy transition can leverage socio-economic benefits while staying on course towards establishing fully decarbonized societies by 2050.

Energy transformation is at the heart of economic recovery in the coronavirus era

The past decade has seen rapid transformations as countries move towards clean energy generation, supply and consumption. Coal-fired power plants have been retired, as reliance on natural gas and emissions-free renewable energy sources increases. Incremental gains have been made from carbon-pricing initiatives.


The Forum’s ETI evaluates the energy sectors of 115 countries in their drive towards net-zero emissions. Since 2015, 94 of 115 countries have improved their combined score (ETI), gained by assessing each country’s readiness to adopt clean energy using three criteria: energy access and security; environmental sustainability; and economic development and growth.


Sweden tops the overall ranking for the third consecutive year as the country most ready to transition to clean energy, followed by Switzerland and Finland. The UK and France are the only two G20 economies in the top 10.


China, ranked 78th, has made strong advances in controlling CO2 emissions by switching to EVs and investing in solar and wind. The report said that it currently has the world’s largest solar PV and onshore wind capacity. Argentina, India and Italy showed strong consistent yearly improvements. However, high energy-consumers – the US, Canada and Brazil have made barely any progress towards energy transition.


Francesco La Camera, Director-General of Irena, said: “The energy transformation is at the heart of economic recovery. Renewable energy offers a way to carbon neutrality by mid-century, aligning short-term policy and investment decisions with our medium and long-term objectives of the Sustainable Development Agenda and 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement.


“International cooperation is vital to support business and the public sector in their efforts to reach our climate goals. This reinforced partnership combines Irena’s leading expertise on energy transition with the Forum’s proven record of success in driving change through public-private dialogue in pursuit of a global energy system that is fit for the future.”


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