The True Cost of Fossil Fuels: Saving on the Externalities of Air Pollution and Climate Change


May 2016
ISBN : 978-92-95111-87-5

This brief quantifies air pollution and climate change externalities related to fossil fuels, along with the extent these can be reduced with higher uptake of renewables. For this purpose, the analysis compares global energy demand between now and 2030 through two cases: first, based on current and planned energy policies; and second, by doubling the share of renewables in the energy mix within 15 years.

The reduction of pollution and climate impact through rapidly increased use of renewable energy by 2030 could save up to USD 4.2 trillion per year worldwide – 15 times higher than the associated costs of doubling the share of renewables. Today’s energy markets, however, do not adequately value climate impact or air pollution. Energy and environmental policies need to correct for these externalities.

The brief can be downloaded here. It forms part of REmap, IRENA’s global renewable energy roadmap.

For an overview of the methodology used to estimate external costs, see the accompanying background document.

Together, these documents elaborate on the findings relating to externalities discussed in the 2016 Edition of IRENA’s global REmap study, Roadmap for a Renewable Energy Future

For more information about the REmap programme, please visit Remap