4 Countries with the Best Renewable Energy Targets
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4 Countries with the Best Renewable Energy Targets

Signs are positive for renewables. In 2022, countries installed more renewable capacity than ever before. Production and installation costs are steadily falling while policy support and incentives are increasing. The momentum is clearly there, and now countries must build on it to reinforce the rise of renewable energy.

Ahead of COP28, many stakeholders are calling for a global renewable energy target. Tripling renewable capacity by 2030 could significantly contribute to meeting the 1.5°C limit. This would represent an increase in renewable installed capacity to 11,000 GW. Such a target would anchor renewables as the backbone of the energy transition and support global climate action.

However, realising renewable expansion plans requires fully rethinking current investment practices. In 2022, the world spent $7 trillion on fossil fuel subsidies – a record high. This is partly explained by governments’ response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, yet it also shows that fossil fuel dependence runs deep. And while renewables investments are steadily growing, investment in fossil fuels remains high. In 2022, major fossil companies profited more than ever. A deep energy transformation will remain a challenge as long as the fossil business model works. It’s time to stop carrying dead fossil fuel weight.

Future looking strategies should ditch fossil fuels

The recent global dash for fossil fuels intensifies the need for governments to set strong renewable energy expansion targets and send signals to markets that fossil fuels should not be part of any sustainable long-term strategy. Strong and stable policy commitments combined with ambitious long-term visions are the foundation for the continued rise of renewables.

Many countries already use renewables to drive their climate change mitigation efforts.

Some countries have ambitious 100% renewable electricity targets. In August 2022, Estonia adopted the target for 2030 – after surpassing its previous target of 40% in 2022. It now joins New Zealand, Austria, and Denmark as countries with 100% targets in place.

Other countries are sending a clear signal that renewables are vital for their decarbonisation strategies. Many European countries, which already planned for renewables to meet more than 60% of their electricity needs, pushed the ceiling in the past years. Portugal, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Ireland, and Greece all now aim to surpass 80% renewables in electricity supply or consumption by 2030. Chile also improved its target from 60% in 2035 to 80% in 2030.

Although not all countries expect renewables to generate most of their electricity by 2030, several moved forward. For example, Pakistan’s latest NDC adopts a more ambitious 60% target in the electricity mix by 2030, up from the previous 30%. Vietnam adopts a 31–39% target share of renewables in the power mix by 2030 as part of its latest Power Development Plan. Japan’s 6th Strategic Energy Plan sets a 36–38% renewables target. China has multiple renewable energy targets; for example, its 14th Five Year Plan sets a 33% target share of renewables in electricity consumption by 2025, of which 18% is from non-hydro sources. It also has a 39% non-fossil target share in electricity generation by 2025. China’s Energy Supply and Consumption Revolution Strategy 2016–2030 extends this target to 50% by 2030.

Renewables are growing: In many countries, renewable capacity increased significantly in 2022.

Ambitious renewable targets pay off in the CCPI

Ambitious renewable electricity targets often pay off in the CCPI ranking. Norway leads the Renewable Energy category with almost 100% of its electricity coming from a combination of hydropower and, more recently, wind energy. The country ranks 12th in the overall ranking. Denmark (4th) and Estonia (5th) are countries with ambitious targets and high CCPI rankings. Both already have a high share of renewables in their electricity mix (84% and 44%, respectively, in 2022) and are targeting 100%
renewable electricity by 2030.

Ambitious renewable electricity targets and policies improve countries’ climate action but they alone are insuficient for curbing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. New Zealand (34th) and Austria (32nd) also target 100% renewable electricity by 2030, but they are located around the middle of this year’s CCPI ranking. Although New Zealand is one of the top 10 countries in the CCPI Renewable Energy category, it is not reducing its very high per capita emissions fast enough (currently 11 t/capita) and is not making significant progress in its energy use since 1990. We see a similar picture for Austria in the Energy Use category. The country has increased its energy supply since 1990 and only decreased its per capita emissions by 15%. This shows that focusing only on renewables for electricity is not enough. All sectors (especially agriculture in New Zealand and the traffic and industrial sector in Austria) need to be decarbonised.


Leonardo Nascimento, Thea Uhlich, Jan Burck