Charting a Sustainable Future: REN21’s RESR Blueprint for a Just and Equitable Renewable Energy Transition

REN21, a globally recognized renewable energy policy network, has unveiled its groundbreaking Renewable Energy and Sustainability Report (RESR), presenting a detailed blueprint for achieving a just and sustainable energy transition aligned with the commitments of COP28. The report, which dispels prevalent myths surrounding renewable energy, underscores its pivotal role in fostering a healthier and more sustainable global environment, making it a significant tool in the realm of climate change mitigation.

REN21’s RESR instills confidence at a global scale by fostering a shared understanding essential for embarking on a path toward a sustainable and equitable energy transition. This initiative responds directly to the recent COP28 commitment to triple renewable energy capacity by the end of the decade. The RESR affirms that renewable energy sources exhibit significantly lower environmental and social impacts in comparison to other energy alternatives. It challenges misconceptions and underscores the overarching benefits of renewables, which outweigh potential negative impacts.

The report acknowledges and addresses the potential adverse effects of renewables on land and water use, biodiversity, forests, human rights, critical materials, and waste generation. Importantly, it emphasizes that such negative impacts can be avoided or mitigated through the adoption of existing best practices. Marking a pioneering move, REN21’s RESR incorporates crowd-sourced data and evidence from diverse stakeholders, including environmentalists, industry leaders, and human rights organizations. The report underscores the vital importance of involving all stakeholders, particularly affected communities, in the decision-making process.

Furthermore, the report delineates key sustainability principles, such as the judicious siting of renewable energy infrastructure, preservation of natural resources, development of circularity in renewables supply chains, and inclusive stakeholder engagement. REN21’s RESR provides a plethora of examples showcasing good practices, effective regulations, industry standards, and certifications. It also highlights noteworthy initiatives that can be applied or adapted to ensure the sustainable deployment of renewables.

Arguably, the RESR marks the initiation of a dynamic process that focuses on knowledge aggregation and multi-stakeholder dialogues to monitor continuous innovation, technological advancements, and evolving policies, regulations, and standards in the renewable energy sector. According to Rana Adib, Executive Director of REN21, “Renewables are the most sustainable energy source. The REN21 Renewable Energy and Sustainability Report outlines how to maximize the benefits of renewables across our economies and communities while reducing possible negative impacts.”

Ute Collier, Acting Director of the Knowledge, Policy, and Finance Centre at IRENA echoes these sentiments, stating, “The RESR provides decision-makers with a recipe for putting sustainability and equity at the heart of the renewables-based energy transition.” Caroline Avan from the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre emphasizes the report’s inclusivity, stating that the involvement of all relevant stakeholders in planning processes is crucial to ensuring equitable benefits from the energy transition.

Moreover, the report underscores that renewable, with lower median emissions than fossil fuels, plays a crucial role in mitigating climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss. Unlike fossil fuels, renewables do not leave long-term impacts on land and water, can coexist with other land uses, and make use of recyclable materials.

REN21’s RESR serves as a comprehensive and collaborative roadmap for decision-makers committed to tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030. It underscores the imperative for a just, sustainable, and equitable energy transition, dispelling doubts about renewables and showcasing their potential to drive positive global change.

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