We have an unprecedented opportunity to achieve a fast and fair energy transition.

The power sector generates the electricity that sustains our homes, schools and hospitals.

But it is also the world’s number one contributor to climate change — producing more carbon emissions than any other sector. Transforming the global electricity sector from fossil fuels to renewables is the single most important thing we can do before 2030 to slow climate change.

A climate-secure future is one in which communities all over the world have affordable electricity, clean air to breathe, abundant green jobs and flourishing, biodiverse ecosystems.

The International Energy Agency says that half of all emissions cuts needed by 2030 must come from the power sector — the equivalent of the annual emissions from China and the US combined. If we do not achieve these cuts we will face a climate breakdown of catastrophic proportions.

The solutions we need already exist:

the technologies to facilitate a first, fast and fair energy transition are in place today, and renewable energy is cheaper than fossil fuels almost everywhere in the world.

But a series of barriers are holding us back. At the current rates of renewables deployment and fossil phaseout, the power sector won’t decarbonize quickly enough. We must act now to change this trajectory, and philanthropy has a critical role to play.


Philanthropy has already been game-changing for climate action, funding research, campaigning and advocacy to help scale renewables to where they are today – poised for exponential growth. Now, philanthropy is uniquely placed to accelerate the scaling of renewable energy to its full potential.


To reach our climate goals, the power sector transition must be:


The power sector has the most cost competitive alternative technologies to fossil fuels. Many of the conditions needed are in place: there have been significant cost reductions and technological improvements to managing renewables on the grid. Transitioning the power sector is particularly urgent because other sectors, such as transportation, are increasingly being electrified to improve their efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. As long as electricity is still created by fossil fuels, electrifying our homes, vehicles, and economies will not realize its full potential benefit for our climate. If we are to rely on electricity to decarbonize our economies, that electricity must be clean.


We have a limited window to act and a huge opportunity to crack. The growth of renewable energy remains incremental rather than exponential. New coal and gas plants are still under construction, with some still receiving government subsidies. In many countries, a lack of government ambition has resulted in the slow enactment of renewable-friendly policies like clear target-setting, infrastructure planning and effective permitting laws.


There are two key elements to just transition:

  • all communities in all regions, must have access to the benefits of the transition: new jobs, better energy access and cleaner air and water.
  • due to underinvestment in the energy transition in the Global South, many low- and middle- income countries are falling behind in terms of fossil fuel reduction, renewable adoption, and access to affordable energy. This is not only unjust, but short-sighted: the Global South will account for 75% of the projected global increase in electricity demand leading up to 2050. If these countries continue to rely on fossil fuels for their economic development, their emissions could grow from 24% of the global total today to 77% by 2050.

The technological and economic conditions are in place:

Wind and solar energy are now cheaper than fossil fuels almost everywhere in the world. Over the past decade, the cost of wind energy has declined by more than 50% and the cost of solar energy and batteries has plummeted 85%. With these low costs, there is no longer a tradeoff between increasing energy access and fighting climate change equitably and affordably in the Global South.
Wind and solar power are reliable energy sources. As of April 2022, Scotland, Denmark and the Australian state of South Australia had all met more than 100% of their total electricity demand with renewables. Norway and Costa Rica already generate an average of 70%+ of their energy from renewable sources.