23 Mar 2021, 13:08
Edgar Meza

Pandemic exacerbates problems in global energy transition – report

Clean Energy Wire

The COVID-19 crisis is widening the gap between pioneers and laggards of the global energy transition, according to a report by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam. Providing an overview of the global effects of the pandemic on the energy sector, the study finds that the crisis has intensified existing trends. Leading countries in the global energy transition are continuing to expand renewable energies. The European Green Deal is working and has even stimulated the previously lagging Poland to accelerate its energy transition, which is only just beginning, the report says. At the other end, however, the pandemic is exacerbating financial problems and hindering investments in renewable energy sources in middle and low-income countries, which require more support in phasing out fossil fuels, according to IASS researchers. These trends are particularly evident in Latin America, where all renewable energy auctions have been cancelled, the report notes.

The crisis is also increasing dependence on fossil fuels in countries that are heavily reliant on the sector. Coal industries are benefitting from tax breaks and lower regulatory requirements, while plans to replace older fossil-fuel power plants with renewable energy sources have been scaled back. The European Green Deal can serve as a positive example for these countries, according to the report. Greater attention must be paid to decarbonisation in the least developed countries, says lead author Rainer Quitzow. “It is high time to tackle the plight of the fossil fuel-dependent economies on an international level. The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the urgent need to develop programmes similar to the European Green Deal in fossil fuel dependent countries and regions around the world." This would require the development of new international partnerships and funding agreements that are explicitly tailored to the challenges of such regions.” A concerted international effort is needed to address the dual challenge of economic recovery and the global fight against climate change, the report stresses. The coronavirus crisis has over the past year intensified pressure in many countries to align stimulus efforts with climate targets.

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