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IEA calls for $3tn green recovery plan targeting energy efficiency and renewables

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released details of a $3tn green recovery plan that it says countries should implement in order to drag their flailing economies out of the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The largest portion of the millions of new jobs created through the 'Sustainable Recovery Plan' would be in retrofitting buildings to improve energy efficiency and in the electricity sector, particularly in grids and renewables.

The UK Government has already been implored to begin a programme of mass retrofitting homes for energy efficiency gains and economic returns.

The other areas that would see higher employment include energy efficiency in industries such as manufacturing food and textiles, low-carbon transport infrastructure, and more efficient and new energy vehicles.

The IEA said its plan would require global investment of about $1tn annually over the next three years. This sum represents about 0.7 per cent of today’s global GDP and includes both public spending and private finance that would be mobilised by government policies.

The IEA said that in 2019 the energy industry – including electricity, oil, gas, coal and biofuels – directly employed around 40 million people globally. It believes three million of those jobs have been lost or are at risk due to the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, with another three million jobs lost or at risk in related areas such as vehicles, buildings and industry.

It also conducted analysis to show that global energy investment is set for an unprecedented plunge of 20 per cent in 2020, which it believes could hamper a clean energy transition.

Investment in enhancing electricity grids; upgrading hydropower facilities; extending the lifetimes of nuclear power plants, and increasing energy efficiency would improve electricity security by lowering the risk of outages, boosting flexibility, reducing losses and helping integrate larger shares of variable renewables, such as wind and solar PV.

The Sustainable Recovery Plan is designed to avoid the kind of sharp rebound in carbon emissions that accompanied the economic recovery from the 2008-2009 global financial crisis and instead put them into structural decline.

“This report lays out the data and analysis showing that a cleaner, fairer and more secure energy future is within our reach. The Sustainable Recovery Plan would make 2019 the definitive peak in global emissions, putting them on a path towards achieving long-term climate goals,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA executive director.

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