12 May 2017 – A radical transformation in the way energy is supplied and used will be needed if the world is to meet its ambition of keeping global temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius, but the impacts of that transformation on the environment and on natural resources have been unclear.
Now, the International Resource Panel, a group of eminent experts in natural resource management hosted by UN Environment, has provided a global assessment of the benefits, risks and trade-offs encountered when energy efficiency technologies are deployed alongside low-carbon electricity supply technologies.
In its latest report, entitled Green Technology Choices: The Environmental and Resource Implications of Low-Carbon Technologies, released today at the Vienna Energy Forum, the Panel examines eight energy efficiency technologies and 36 sub-technologies across buildings, industry and transportation.
The report shows that while there are clear environmental benefits from the use of these technologies, particularly in reductions to greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and land and water use, there may also be some additional considerations, such as an increased use of metals.
"We are on the right track. We know that cleaning up the air we breathe gives rise to huge benefits to both human and environmental health, and we know, too, that low-carbon energy efficiency technologies can help us reduce damaging climate change," said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.
"But we're also clear on the need for greater action on building a circular economy that cuts waste, and on production innovations that could also create new, green jobs."
The report is important because it is only by having a complete picture of the impacts of low-carbon technologies throughout their full life-cycle that governments and regulators can put in place policies to maximize environmental benefits.
The report compared two scenarios – a global temperature rise of 6 degrees Celsius and a scenario where the global target of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is achieved.
Key findings of the analysis include:
NOTES TO EDITORS
The International Resource Panel has previously released a report on low-carbon electricity supply technologies. Called Green Energy Choices: the Benefits, Risks and Trade-Offs of Low-Carbon Technologies for Electricity Production, that report can be downloaded here.