IEA says clean energy progress is still “too slow”

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Lignite mining takes place in Germany with wind turbines in the background.

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The International Energy Agency issued a thought-provoking warning on Wednesday that the progress of clean energy is still “too slow to keep global emissions from falling to net zero”.

The Paris-based organization issued a statement at the same time it released its World Energy Outlook 2021. The release of this wide-ranging report comes as the world is preparing for the COP26 Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, which will take place on October 31 and November 12.

According to the International Energy Agency’s report, although electric vehicle sales set a new record in 2020, and renewable energy sources such as wind energy and solar photovoltaic continue to grow rapidly, “every data point showing the rate of energy change can be Stubborn refutation”. status quo. “Photovoltaics refers to a way of directly converting light from the sun into electrical energy.

As a sign of how much work needs to be done, the World Economic Outlook describes how the “rapid but uneven economic recovery from the recession triggered by Covid last year” has put significant pressure on the energy system. This triggered “a sharp increase in the prices of natural gas, coal, and electricity markets.”

The report continued: “Despite all the advancements made in renewable energy and electric vehicles, the use of coal and oil will rebound sharply in 2021.” “Mainly for this reason, it also witnessed the largest carbon dioxide emissions in history. The second largest annual growth.”

Challenges for the future

When looking forward to the next few years, the report has gone through many scenarios. These include its established policy scenarios, in which “almost all net growth in energy demand by 2050 will be met by low-emission sources”.

Although the above sounds promising, the IEA warns that this will keep annual emissions roughly at today’s levels. “So when the global average temperature reached 2.6°C higher than the pre-industrial level in 2100, it was still rising.”

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Another outlook, the announced commitment scenario, looks at what will happen if the government’s net-zero commitments made so far are fully implemented on time.

According to the World Economic Outlook, in this case, the challenge remains: “The global average temperature rise in 2100 will remain about 2.1 °C higher than the pre-industrial level, although this situation does not reach net zero emissions, so the temperature The trend is still not stable.”

The shadow of the “Paris Agreement” reached at the COP21 summit in December 2015 is hung in the reports of COP26 and IEA.

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

The challenge is huge. The United Nations has pointed out that 1.5 degrees Celsius is considered the “upper limit” in avoiding the most serious consequences of climate change.

With reference to the current trajectory of carbon dioxide emissions, the United Nations stated that “the temperature may rise by as much as 4.4°C by the end of this century.”

Commenting on the IEA’s new report, its executive director Fatih Birol said: “The world’s encouraging clean energy momentum is contending with the stubborn fossil fuels in our energy system.”

“The government needs to address this issue at COP26 and send a clear and unmistakable signal that they are committed to rapidly expanding the clean and resilient technologies of the future,” Birol said.

“The social and economic benefits of accelerating the transition to clean energy are huge, and the cost of inaction is huge.”

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