In accordance with IEA, progress in clear power stays “far too gradual”


Lignite mining in Germany with wind turbines in the background.

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The International Energy Agency issued a sobering warning on Wednesday, claiming that progress in clean energy is “far too slow to sustainably drive global emissions towards net zero.”

The Paris-based organization made its remarks in an announcement that accompanied the release of its World Energy Outlook 2021. The full report will be released as the planet prepares for the COP26 Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, which will take place between October 31st and 12th November

The IEA report states that while EV sales hit new records in 2020 and renewable sources such as wind and photovoltaics continued their rapid growth, “every data point showing the speed of energy transition can be met by another that shows the stubbornness of the status quo. “Photovoltaics is a way of converting the light of the sun directly into electricity.

As a sign of how much work needs to be done, the WEO described how a “rapid but uneven economic recovery from the Covid ‐ induced recession of last year” had put considerable strain on the energy system. This has led to “sharp price increases on the natural gas, coal and electricity markets”.

“With all the advances made by renewable energies and electromobility, 2021 will see a strong recovery in coal and oil use,” the report continues. “For this reason, in particular, it has recorded the second largest annual increase in CO2 emissions in history.”

Future challenges

The report goes through a number of scenarios when it comes to looking at the years to come. This includes the Stated Policies scenario, in which “almost all of the net growth in energy demand up to 2050 will be met from low-emission sources”.

While the above sounds promising, the IEA warns that doing so would keep annual emissions roughly where they are today. “As a result, global mean temperatures are still rising as they hit 2.6 ° C above pre-industrial levels in 2100.”

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Another outlook, the Announced Pledges Scenario, examines what would happen if the net-zero commitments previously made by governments were fully implemented on time.

According to the WEO, challenges remain in this scenario: “The global average temperature rise in 2100 will be kept at around 2.1 ° C above pre-industrial levels, although this scenario does not achieve net zero emissions, so the temperature trend still does not reach it is stabilized. “

The shadow of the Paris Agreement reached at the COP21 summit in December 2015 is looming over both COP26 and the 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 compared to pre-industrial levels”.

The challenge is big, and the United Nations has determined that 1.5 degrees Celsius is “the upper limit” when it comes to avoiding the worst effects of climate change.

Referring to the current trend in CO2 emissions, the UN states that “the temperature could rise by up to 4.4 ° C by the end of the century”.

Commenting on the newly published report, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said, “The extremely encouraging dynamism of clean energy around the world is colliding with the persistent predominance of fossil fuels in our energy systems.”

“Governments must resolve this at COP26 by sending a clear and unmistakable signal that they are committed to the rapid diffusion of clean and resilient technologies of the future,” said Birol.

“The social and economic benefits of accelerating the energy transition are enormous, and the costs of inaction are immense.”