An Open Letter to the European Commission to Raise Renewable Targets

To the European Commission

The G20 Energy Ministerial  stands as a pivotal moment in our fight to prevent global warming from surpassing 1.5 degrees Celsius and on the road to COP28. As we approach the G20 Energy Ministerial, we are gravely concerned by the EU’s lack of ambition for a global renewable energy target and thus urgently call on the European Commission to raise its ambition for a global Renewables target.

It has come to our attention that the European Commission has asked the EU council to approve a negotiation mandate for a global renewables target. While this is a step in the right direction, the EU’s current ambition falls significantly short of what is needed to align with the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. We are highly concerned the European Union locks us into a low-ambition outcome if this vision is not changed urgently.

To stay below 1.5 degrees of warming, an annual deployment of 1.5 Terawatt (TW) of renewable power from 2030 onwards is necessary on a global scale to replace fossil fuels and enable energy access to millions. Regrettably, the EU’s internal documents only propose deployment rates that fall below 1 TW. This is disappointing and dangerous.

Graphic 1: Findings from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA: World Energy Transitions Outlook 2023, page 65) reveal that we must reach 11,174GW of total renewable energy capacity by 2030 to be on track for 1.5 degrees and in line with the Paris Agreement. This requires an average of 975GW of renewable energy added for the coming years this decade. The graphic on the left illustrates an unrealistic scenario assuming linear growth rate. In contrast, the graphic on the right demonstrates a realistic 15% growth of renewable deployment showcasing that by 2030 we need to reach around 1.5TW yearly deployment to meet IRENAs scenario. Source: Ember, IRENA

We understand that the EU claims to be in line with 1.5C and invoking International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) findings. According to IRENA, the world must add an average of 1,000 GW of renewable power capacity annually until 2030, meaning 7,800GW added between 2022 and 2030. The EUs position to triple yearly renewable energy deployment ‘by’ 2030 would fall massively short of the total additional capacity needed this decade, as this graph shows, and is a serious misinterpretation of IRENAs findings. As the first graph above shows, a realistic trajectory for increased annual deployment that delivers the total capacity required, for example a 15% increase per year, would see annual deployment rates reach 1,500GW by 2030.

Graphic 2: The left graph shows a linear growth rate of 975GW — an unrealistic scenario. In contrast, the right graph illustrates a realistic scenario with increasing renewable deployment rates from now until 2030. The right graph is based on the European Union’s draft position to triple yearly deployment of renewable energy by 2030. This side by side comparison demonstrates the EU’s approach falls significantly short of where the world needs to be according to IRENA’s standards. Source: Ember, IRENA

Additionally, no outcome at COP28 will be credible without a resolute decision to equitably phase out all fossil fuels – coal, oil, and gas – while concurrently setting a strong renewables target, a target to double current yearly energy efficiency gains by 2030; rich countries should have a target to reduce overall energy demand in addition. Finally to ensure a truly just and sustainable energy transition, strong social safeguards and a sustainability framework need to be adopted.

This proposed approach holds the potential to achieve two vital objectives: keeping global warming below the critical 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold, and ensuring equitable energy access for all. But we will only be set up for  failure from the start if we settle for low ambition targets such as have been indicated so far by the European Commission.

A global renewable target is indispensable for guiding the entire energy transition. It would provide governments with a benchmark for renewable deployment, and inform decisions regarding planning permissions, land use, grid connections, and auctions. Furthermore, energy efficiency is a leading tool to combat climate change, build resilience, help all countries boost their economies, significantly reduce air pollution, improve energy security, and free up scarce financial resources in a moment of multiple, intersecting global crises. In addition to global targets we need actual on the ground implementation. Accelerating energy efficiency and conservation measures, combined with the speedily deployment of sustainable renewables globally are cornerstones for deep decarbonisation, an equitable and just transition and limiting average global warming to 1.5°C. 

Given the huge disparities globally in investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency across countries and regions, unlocking finance, especially dramatically scaled-up additional public finance from rich countries  with a crucial role for grant-based support for energy access in least developed countries;  and addressing systematic failures of  and inequalities in our financial system, including debt burdens, will be instrumental to finance this transition and ensure timely implementation. 

Additionally, the target would guide governments on how to integrate renewable power effectively, considering factors like grid investments, flexibility, storage requirements, and market design changes. Further, we need meaningful safeguards for people and ecosystems, in particular a strong sustainability framework to not replicate the same harmful, colonial, extractive structures of the fossil fuel economy in the renewable energy economy – in particular to avoid unsustainable land use practises and land rights violations such as large-scale bioenergy and unsustainable raw material extraction.

In this regard we cautiously welcome the recent statement of the “High Ambition Coalition” and its call for a fossil fuel phase out. We take courage from the fact that the statement also signed by the European Union can be interpreted as a more ambitious position for a Renewable Energy Goal: “new renewable energy targets to more than triple current rates of deployment” as stated in the document would result in over 1.3TW of Renewable Energy based on projected 440 GW of renewable energy deployment in 2023. We believe the EU can and must change its position.

Currently, the EU risks undermining high ambition for renewable energy: We call on the EU to urgently change course and raise their ambition for a global renewable energy target and adopt a position for 1.5TW for 1.5C. The G20 Energy Ministerial is a fitting occasion to show real ambition on renewable energy.


Action Aid international
AbibiNsroma Foundation
Adarsha Samajik Progoti Sangstha
Centre for Environmental Initiatives “Ecoaction”, Ukraine
Citizens’ Climate Europe
Climate Action for Lifelong Learners (CALL)
Climate Action Network Australia
Climate Action Network Europe
Climate Action Network International
Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat Canada
Destination Zero
Dibeen for Environmental Development
Ecological Christian Organisation (ECO)
Fast For the Climate
Focus, Association for Sustainable Development
Global Citizen
Green Faith
Human Environmental Association for Development
Iceland Nature Conservation Association
Klimadelegation e.V.
Oil Change International
Razom We Stand
Réseau Action Climat France
Sociedad Amigos del Viento
Stamp Out Poverty
The Climate Reality Project Europe
WWF European Policy Office


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