IEA says clean energy progress remains 'far too slow'

Business

CNBC 13 October, 2021 - 06:24am

The International Energy Agency issued a sobering warning Wednesday, claiming that clean energy progress remained "far too slow to put global emissions into sustained decline towards net zero."

The Paris-based organization made its remarks in an announcement accompanying the release of its World Energy Outlook 2021. The wide-ranging report's publication comes as the planet gears up for the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, Scotland, which will take place between Oct. 31 and Nov. 12.

"For all the advances being made by renewables and electric mobility, 2021 is seeing a large rebound in coal and oil use," the report continued. "Largely for this reason, it is also seeing the second‐largest annual increase in CO2 emissions in history."

The report goes through a number of scenarios when it comes to looking at the years ahead. These include its Stated Policies Scenario, where "almost all of the net growth in energy demand to 2050 is met by low emissions sources."

While the above sounds promising, the IEA cautions that this would leave yearly emissions at roughly today's levels. "As a result, global average temperatures are still rising when they hit 2.6 °C above pre‐industrial levels in 2100."

Another outlook, the Announced Pledges Scenario, looks at what would happen if the net zero commitments made by governments to date were fully implemented on time.

Under this scenario, challenges remain, according to the WEO: "The global average temperature rise in 2100 is held to around 2.1 °C above pre‐industrial levels, although this scenario does not hit net zero emissions, so the temperature trend has still not stabilised."

The shadow of the Paris Agreement, which was reached at the COP21 summit in December 2015, looms large over both COP26 and the IEA's report.

Described by the United Nations as a legally binding international treaty on climate change, the accord aims to "limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels."

The challenge is huge, and the United Nations has noted that 1.5 degrees Celsius is considered to be "the upper limit" when it comes to avoiding the worst consequences from climate change.

Referencing the current trajectory of CO2 emissions, the U.N. states that "temperature could increase by as much as 4.4°C by the end of the century."

Commenting on the IEA's newly published report, Fatih Birol, its executive director, said: "The world's hugely encouraging clean energy momentum is running up against the stubborn incumbency of fossil fuels in our energy systems."

"Governments need to resolve this at COP26 by giving a clear and unmistakeable signal that they are committed to rapidly scaling up the clean and resilient technologies of the future," Birol said.

"The social and economic benefits of accelerating clean energy transitions are huge, and the costs of inaction are immense."

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IEA’s Birol Sees Clean Energy as Solution to Global Crisis

Bloomberg Markets and Finance 13 October, 2021 - 12:13pm

World must ‘accelerate transition’ to clean energy, IEA warns as emissions surge

The Independent 13 October, 2021 - 08:25am

Less than three weeks away from the UN’s highly anticipated Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, the IEA has highlighted the scale of the challenge facing countries in the move away from polluting fossil fuels to clean energy sources.

Following a recession brought on by Covid-19, 2021 has seen a rebound in coal and oil consumption, the agency warned, which has resulted in the second-largest annual increase in carbon emissions on record.

Despite highlighting significant gains in wind and solar power, as well as in electric vehicle technology, which the agency described as “hugely encouraging”, the overall downbeat assessment has led the IEA to call for “an unmistakable signal of ambition and action from governments in Glasgow”.

Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director, said the world was on course to miss key milestones by a wide margin, and warned that “the costs of inaction are immense”.

He said: “Today’s climate pledges would result in only 20 per cent of the emissions reductions by 2030 that are necessary to put the world on a path towards net zero by 2050.

“Reaching that path requires investment in clean energy projects and infrastructure to more than triple over the next decade.”

The agency called for major new investments to be made in renewables in order to “jolt the energy system onto a new set of rails”, particularly in emerging and developing economies.

These countries should be the focus of 70 per cent of additional funding to tackle the climate crisis, the IEA said, as funding there is scarce and borrowing remains up to seven times more expensive than in advanced economies.

The UN’s 26th climate “conference of the parties” or Cop26, runs between 1 and 12 November in Glasgow, with a key aim of setting targets for major global reductions in fossil fuel emissions.

The summit has been described as the “last chance saloon” for mitigating the worst impacts of human activity, with only a “narrow but achievable” pathway to keeping temperature rises below catastrophic levels.

The aims set out under the 2015 Paris climate agreement are to limit the rise of global temperatures to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels, while pursuing efforts to limit the rise to 1.5 degrees.

In order to achieve this, the UN’s scientific committee on climate change has said emissions must be cut to net zero – when greenhouse gas emissions are balanced out by their removal from the atmosphere – by 2050 at the latest.

Responding to the report, Dr Simon Cran-McGreehin, an analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit said: “By showing that current policies fall well short of getting global warming in check by 2030 and providing a clear checklist of commitments that the UK – as host of Cop26 – will need to secure to keep 1.5C of warming alive, the IEA are laying down a clear gauntlet for action on climate.

“Continuing global dependence on fossil fuels is exposing the UK and the rest of the world to ongoing energy price volatility, which could be avoided – along with destructive temperature rises – if bold decisions are taken over the next few weeks.

“The UK could continue to be in the vanguard here, by publishing the eagerly awaited Net Zero Strategy and filling gaps in policies in key areas, notably on home insulation to cut our heating bills and protect us from gas price spikes.”

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