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Ambition on Renewables in the G20

G20 countries failing to grasp opportunities from renewables, new report finds

21 September 2022, 19:31 UTC 3 min read

  • China, Spain and UK lead in rankings on ambition and progress towards renewables
  • Australia, India, South Africa and Japan show promising improvements and opportunities for growth
  • Canada and Brazil score low on ambition and progress, despite existing high renewable electricity use

The world’s most economically developed countries, the G20, are failing to grasp the opportunities that renewable electricity provides, as the world grapples with the global energy crisis. This is according to a new report, Ambition on renewables in the G20 by international non-profit Climate Group, developed in partnership with REN21, the global community of renewable energy stakeholders.

The report, which launches today at Climate Week NYC, finds that ambitious renewable electricity targets, coupled with more supportive policies, makes for an attractive environment for corporate investment in renewable electricity. Responsible for over 80% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, the G20 economies bear an overwhelming duty to act on climate change and showcase leadership in renewable energy transition.

Using REN21’s data, coupled with data from the global renewables initiative, RE100, run by Climate Group in partnership with CDP, and EY’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI), the report provides an overview of the huge renewable electricity achievements and opportunities across the G20.

The 20 countries (including Spain as a permanent guest of the G20) were ranked from A to E based on their ambition and progress in deploying renewables, in particular renewable power capacities. Some of the areas studied include net zero targets, renewable power target ambition, share of renewables in total installed capacity in 2021, and renewable capacity additions in 2021.

Countries across the G20 have strategic opportunities and challenges ahead of their road to greater renewable electricity. The South Korean government is planning to reduce its 2030 renewable energy target by nearly 10%. Canada and Brazil, which have an abundance of hydropower, have suffered from severe droughts putting energy generation at risk. By diversifying their sources of renewables, greater security can be produced along with export potentials to neighbouring countries. By allowing the price for its renewable electricity to operate on a level playing field with fossil fuels, Australia can reduce the costs for businesses looking to adopt more clean electricity.

“With the era of cheap fossil fuels now over, the world’s leaders need to grasp the opportunities from renewables. As Europe buckles under the weight of the energy crisis, its leaders are regretting they didn’t transition from fossil fuels faster. They mustn’t lock themselves in to further damaging emissions. A growing chorus of global corporates is calling for greater access to renewable electricity with billions of dollars in investment up for grabs,” said Mike Peirce, Executive Director, Systems Change, Climate Group.

“At Climate Week NYC, we're calling on leaders from business, government, and civil society to join us to keep pushing the agenda on climate action. This is the chance for us to share our research and celebrate the successes, but also explore where these countries are falling short,” concluded Peirce.

RE100 - Ambition on Renewables in the G20

The results show a mixed bag of successes and failures, with some countries performing strongly in areas like corporate access to renewables or favourable policies. All countries however fail to strongly perform across all dimensions of leadership and progress. The key crucial task that emerges is for countries to align their high-level renewable ambition with developments on the ground, including a strong corporate sourcing movement, to keep incentivising changes to the grid.

To deliver greater ambition and progress, countries need to ensure they have strong roadmaps in place, with key interim targets along their journey to net zero. Implementing comprehensive financing solutions and corporate PPA contracts will deliver greater investor confidence and help to increase the attractiveness of a market for renewable electricity development.

"Renewables are central to business efforts to achieve zero emissions or other ambitious emission reduction goals. For some, the drive to increase the use of renewable energy is part of larger environmental goals and, often, a fundamental element of a broader sustainability strategy” said Rana Adib, Executive Director, REN21.

The report also provides an analysis of 10 countries in the G20, highlighting those that are leading the way within the G20 (leaders), those that have made some changes but are not leading (climbers), and those that have a substantial way to go (stragglers).

The report can be downloaded here