Research by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has shown that doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix to 36 per cent by 2030 could save the world economy up to US$4.2 trillion a year.
The IRENA research says that currently around 18 per cent of global energy consumption in 2014 was accounted for by renewable sources, such as wind and solar.
Doubling the current share would help achieve a global target to limit the rise in the global average temperature to below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The target was agreed at a United Nations sponsored summit in Paris last year, which endorsed a deal now known as the Paris Agreement.
The report said the cost of doubling the renewable share by 2030 would be US$290 billion a year, but the annual net savings from reducing pollution and emissions on human health and agriculture would be between US$1.2 trillion and US$4.2 trillion.
“It would create more jobs, save millions of lives from reduced air pollution and set us on a pathway to limit global temperature rise to two degrees as agreed in Paris,” he added.
The IRENA report said a transition towards greater shares of renewable energy in the global energy mix would also cause a shift in trade patterns.
Renewable Energy Benefits: Measuring the Economics, builds on previous IRENA analysis on the socio-economic benefits of renewable energy.
Separately, the European Environment Agency said the share of renewable energy in the European Union crept up to 15.2 per cent in 2014 from 15 per cent in 2013, according to preliminary data for 2014, the latest year available.
The full report can be downloaded here.