An international green economy will tap into the power of wind energy

» By | Published 22 Feb 2011

Wind power and other renewables can play a significant role in a new global “green economy” while also helping mitigate climate change between now and 2050, according to an exhaustive new report released on Monday.

Produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the 624-page report identified the energy industry as one of the key sectors that will underpin a green economy.

The report said investing 2% of global GDP into the key sectors “can kick-start a transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy” that replaces the “existing, resource-depleting, high carbon ‘brown’ economy” by mid-century.

Noting that 2% of global GDP currently represents about €950 billion a year, the report — Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication — said more than €263 billion should be spent on “greening” energy supply.

“Currently, the world spends between one and two per cent of global GDP on a range of subsidies that often perpetuate unsustainable resources use in areas such as fossil fuels, agriculture, including pesticide subsidies, water and fisheries,” said a press release that accompanied the report.

“Many of these are contributing to environmental damage and inefficiencies in the global economy, and phasing them down or phasing them out would generate multiple benefits while freeing up resources to finance a Green Economy transition.”

The press release said that investing about 1.25% of global GDP each year in energy efficiency and renewable energies could cut global primary energy demand by 9% in 2020 and close to 40% by 2050.

Pavan Sukhdev, head of UNEP’s Green Economy Initiative, was quoted as saying governments can change laws, policies and invest public money to promote a low-carbon future.

“By doing so, they can also unleash the trillions of dollars of private capital in favour of a Green Economy,” Sukhdev said, adding that over €439 billion in global fossil fuel subsidies should eventually be phased out.

The report noted that substituting investments in carbon-intensive energy sources with investments in clean energy could increase the penetration rate of renewables to 27% of total primary energy demand by 2050.

Under a green economy scenario, the capacity of power generation from wind could reach 1,515 GW by 2050, the report said, adding wind power and other renewables would account for 45% of total electricity generation by mid-century.