IEA says clean energy progress remains ‘too slow’

In Germany, brown coal is mined against the backdrop of wind turbines.

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On Wednesday, the International Energy Agency issued a sobering warning, saying that progress on clean energy remains “too slow to bring global emissions back to zero sustainably.”

The Paris-based organization made its remarks in the announcement accompanying the release of its Global Energy Outlook 2021 report. The publication of the extensive report comes as the planet prepares for the COP26 Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, to be held from October. November 31 and 12.

The IEA report says that while electric vehicle sales hit new records in 2020 and renewables such as wind and solar photovoltaic continued to grow rapidly, “every data point showing the rate of change in energy can be contrasted with another that shows tenacity. … quo. “Photovoltaics is a way to directly convert sunlight into electricity.

In a sign of how much work needs to be done, WEO described how “the rapid but uneven recovery of the economy from last year’s Covid recession” has put significant pressure on the energy system. This caused “a sharp rise in prices in the markets for natural gas, coal and electricity.”

“Despite all the advances made by renewable energies and electric mobility, significant growth in the use of coal and oil is expected in 2021,” the report says. “In large part for this reason, it also has the second highest annual growth in CO2 emissions in history.”

Challenges ahead

When it comes to looking at the years to come, the report explores a number of scenarios. These include a Public Policy Scenario in which “almost all net growth in energy demand by 2050 will come from low-emission sources”.

While the above sounds promising, the IEA warns that as a result, annual emissions will remain around today’s levels. “As a result, global average temperatures are still rising when they rise 2.6 ° C above pre-industrial levels in 2100.”

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Another projection, the Pledged Scenario, looks at what would happen if the commitments made by governments to date were fully met on time.

Under the WEO, problems remain under this scenario: “The global average temperature rise in 2100 is held at about 2.1 ° C above pre-industrial levels, although this scenario does not result in zero net emissions, so the temperature trend is still unchanged. stabilized “.

The shadow of the Paris Agreement, which was reached at the COP21 summit in December 2015, hangs over the COP26 and IEA report.

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

The challenge is daunting, and the United Nations has noted that 1.5 degrees Celsius is considered the “upper limit” when it comes to preventing the worst impacts of climate change.

Referring to the current trajectory of CO2 emissions, the UN states that “by the end of the century, temperatures could rise by as much as 4.4 ° C.”

Commenting on the recently released IEA report, its chief executive Fatih Birol said: “The extremely encouraging impulse of clean energy in the world is being met by the persistent presence of fossil fuels in our power systems.”

“Governments need to address this challenge at COP26 by sending a clear and unmistakable 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 the transition to clean energy are enormous, and the cost of inaction is enormous.”

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