The world has made strides in tackling climate change, with the takeoff wind, solar and other clean technologies. But more is needed to avert disaster, new report says.
WASHINGTON - Clean energy technologies such as wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles are advancing so rapidly that the global use of Fossil fuels are now expected to peak by the mid-2020s and then start to decline, the world's leading energy agency said on Tuesday.
But there's a catch: The transition away from coal, oil and natural gas still isn't happening quickly enough to avoid dangerous levels of global warming, the agency said, at least not unless governments will only take much stronger action to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions which warm the planet over the next few years.
The World Energy Outlook , at 386- One page report which forecasts global energy trends through 2050, comes just weeks before world leaders gather for a major United Nations climate summit in Glasgow to discuss how to accelerate the shift away from fuels fossils and prevent the planet from overheating.
"The world has made remarkable progress in clean energy over the past decade ", Fatih Birol, the executive director of the agency, said in an interview. " But there is still a lot to be done. "
The new report finds the world has made significant progress in tackling climate change Wind and solar power are now the cheapest new sources of electricityur most markets and growing rapidly. Sales of electric vehicles worldwide hit record highs last year. Around the world, approvals of new coal-fired power plants, a major source of emissions, have slowed dramatically in recent years, with governments and banks increasingly refusing to finance them.
Governments are also stepping up their policies for The European Union has increased the price it imposes on big polluters for emitting carbon dioxide. India has increased the efficiency standards for new air conditioners. China has said it will stop funding new coal-fired power plants overseas.
As a result, the International Energy now predicts that mankind's carbon dioxide emissions will peak by the mid-2020s, thens slowly decline over the following decades. Global coal use is expected to decline by 2050, despite a slight increase this year due to the increase in industrial activity in China , while global demand for oil is expected to decline standing by the 2030s, as people switch to electricity to power their cars.
That alone would be a remarkable change. Since World War II, global carbon dioxide emissions have followed a seemingly inexorable upward trajectory, with only temporary declines during recessions, as the world relied on ever-increasing amounts of fossil fuels to power homes, cars and factories. A turning point is now in sight, indicatede report.
Even so, this change is still far from being enough to avoid some of the most perilous consequences of climate change, warned the 'agency. Image A gas power plant under construction in southern China last month. The International Energy Agency says that by 2035, rich countries will have to shut down virtually all fossil-fueled power plants in favor of cleaner technologies in order to keep the planet from dangerously overheating. Credit ... Gilles Sabrie for Hfrance.fr
Current energy policies will always put the world on the right trackto warm to about 2.6 degrees Celsius (4.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 from pre-industrial levels, according to the report. Last month, the United Nations warned that such an outcome would be" catastrophic ", noting countries are already at much higher risk of deadly heatwaves, droughts, floods and forest fires after just 1.1 degrees Celsius of global warming so far.
Many world leaders hope to limit average global warming to around 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid some of the most serious and irreversible risks of climate change, such as widespread crop failures or ecosystem collapse.
To achieve this goal, it will not be enough for the emGlobal emissions peak and then slowly decline in the decades to come, as they are currently on track to do, the International Energy Agency said. Instead, the nations of the world should move much faster to cut emissions by nearly half this decade and completely stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by 2050.
Earlier this year, the agency has established a detailed roadmap for what such an effort might look like. By 2030, for example, electric vehicles are expected to account for more than half of new car sales worldwide, compared to just 5% today. By 2035, rich countries are expected to shut down virtually all fossil-fueled power plants in favor ofcleaner technologies like wind, solar or nuclear power. By 2040, all remaining coal-fired power plants in the world will have to be retired or upgraded with technology to capture and bury their carbon emissions.
nations are expected to triple their investment in clean energy over the next decade, to around $ 4 trillion a year, the agency said. Most of this additional spending is expected to go to developing countries, which have been responsible for most of the growth in emissions in recent years, but have often struggled to access finance.
"So far, only around 20% of investments in clean energy go to emerging countries," Birol said. “This has to change. It's a race no one wins unless everyone finishes the race. "
The report noted that many countries are considering stronger action, at least on paper. More than 50 countries, including China and the United States as well as the European Union, have now announced goals for achieving "net zero" - that is, reaching the point where they no longer add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere - over the next decades.
If every country keeps this promise, the world could potentially limit total global warming to around 2.1 degrees Celsius by 2100, according to the report. But even that result is a long way off. to be assured, because most countries that commit to achieving net zero have not yet adopted policies to achieve these goals.
The new report also warns that the transition to a cleaner energy economy could prove bumpy without careful planning.Over the past six years, global investment in developing new oil and natural gas fields has collapsed, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. But if the world does not invest enough in clean energy alternatives to replace these sources, many countries could find themselves in an energy crisis, such as Europe currently experiencing this fall.
"It has to happen quickly," the report said, "or the global energy markets will face a turbulent and volatile period ahead. "