The brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine has highlighted how quickly conflict can threaten human life, national security, shake geopolitical relations, and brings to the forefront our dependency on imported fossil fuels.

Global gas prices are at record highs. Even before the invasion of Ukraine, consumers were being adversely impacted by high power prices. The spike in prices is already pushing many households into energy poverty and disrupting economic productivity.

Europe’s depends on Russia for about 40% of its natural gas supplies. This has contributed to the slower expansion of renewable energy in the continent over the past two decades, the impact of which is being felt now.

That historic dependence on gas and on coal also means that our electricity markets are still not structured to prioritise renewable energy, and to enable industrial and domestic customers to take advantage of lower wind and solar costs. We must, as a priority, reform electricity markets to properly reward green electrons, and pass those cost benefits to consumers.

The energy transition needs to rapidly and urgently accelerate. However, the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that what is actually accelerating is the gap between climate pledges and reality. In order to achieve the 1.5°C limit, we need to cut global emissions by 45% this decade.

We must, as a priority, reform electricity markets to properly reward green electrons, and pass those cost benefits to consumers.

The reality is global greenhouse gas emissions are at their highest level ever and current pledges would mean a 14% increase in emissions, putting us in line for warming of around 3.2°C. The concern is that the pressures the current situation present may not make a clean transition the obvious choice as countries hold onto coal to overcome short term supply crunches.

However, I believe the recent announcement by Mitsui to invest €575m in Mainstream Renewable Power shows that there is an obvious investment case in the transition to renewables and that capital is available to accelerate it.

Companies like Mainstream, rational investors like Mitsui, and advocates for climate actionalign on the need for scaled up investment in renewables to increase climate resilience, energy security and energy independence. Our focus now should be on how we are going to structure energy markets to accelerate that transition.

The International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Agency remind us that by 2050 over half the world’s energy will be provided by electricity and of that 90% will be delivered by wind and solar power. In addition, a further 20% of our energy will come from hydrogen, and that will be manufactured predominantly by wind and solar power.

Renewables are the quickest and cheapest route to greater energy independence. The huge advantage of wind and solar power, particularly onshore, is that projects can be developed and commissioned faster, and at scale, than fossil alternatives. Onshore wind and solar energy are now cheaper to run than new coal or new gas plant in most markets, and cheaper than existing coal plants in many markets.

This gives hydrocarbon-heavy economies within the EU, and developing nations like South Africa, Vietnam, and Indonesia where we are building projects, a real opportunity to accelerate their deployment of renewable energy over the coming decade to provide low-cost bulk generation in place of old coal and avoid the need for new coal or new gas. Major national economies have shown that it is possible to maintain economic growth while replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy. Still, this decoupling isn’t happening fast enough.

The IPCC report issues a stark warning; the pledges made in Glasgow are grossly inadequate to reach a mid-century 1.5°C goal. We need to make major progress before the next UN climate meeting in Egypt this November. The Glasgow Climate Pact calls for all countries to “rapidly scale up clean power generation and accelerate efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”

But the crisis in Ukraine shows that some actors may not want to give up without a struggle the political leverage they gain from their fossil resources. Thankfully, they are a declining geopolitical force.

We need to see fearless action from governments that recognises the existential and time-sensitive nature of the climate emergency as well as the importance of renewables for energy security.

It has taken the current crisis for the world to recognise that the geopolitical risks arising from energy dependency are no longer sustainable. It is critical to move from words to action, at a pace that will allow us collectively to achieve our goals and seize the economic opportunities of the transition.

· Mary Quaney is CEO of Dublin-headquartered developer Mainstream Renewables