IEA Sees Greener World by 2030, Says More Must Be Done
PARIS — Current government policies across the globe have virtually guaranteed there will be 10 times as many electric vehicles on the road in 2030 as there are today, and that renewable energy’s share will climb to an unprecedented 50% in the same time frame, according to a recent report from the International Energy Agency.
However, even stronger measures are still needed to keep alive the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C, the agency said.
The IEA’s conclusions are contained in its new World Energy Outlook 2023, a document that shows clean energy technologies such as solar, wind, electric cars and heat pumps are rapidly reshaping the way we live and work.
The Outlook, widely considered the most authoritative global source of energy analysis and projections, also foresees heat pumps and other electric heating systems outselling fossil fuel boilers globally; and three times as much investment going into new offshore wind projects than into new coal- and gas-fired power plants.
All of those increases are based only on the current policy settings of governments around the world. If countries deliver on their national energy and climate pledges on time and in full, clean energy progress would move even faster, the agency said.
The combination of growing momentum behind clean energy technologies and structural economic shifts around the world also has major implications for fossil fuels, with peaks in global demand for coal, oil and natural gas all visible this decade, the IEA said.
This is the first time this has happened in its analysis, the agency said.
According to the report, the share of fossil fuels in global energy supply, which has been stuck for decades at around 80%, declines to 73% by 2030, with global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions peaking by 2025.
“The transition to clean energy is happening worldwide and it’s unstoppable. It’s not a question of ‘if,’ it’s just a matter of ‘how soon’ — and the sooner the better for all of us,” said IEA Executive Director Faith Birol in a written statement.
“Governments, companies and investors need to get behind clean energy transitions rather than hindering them. There are immense benefits on offer, including new industrial opportunities and jobs, greater energy security, cleaner air, universal energy access and a safer climate for everyone,” Birol continued.
“Taking into account the ongoing strains and volatility in traditional energy markets today, claims that oil and gas represent safe or secure choices for the world’s energy and climate future look weaker than ever,” he added.
That said, the report acknowledges that demand for fossil fuels is set to remain far too high to keep the Paris Agreement goal of limiting the rise in average global temperatures to 1.5 °C within reach.
This risks not only worsening climate impacts after a year of record-breaking heat, but also undermining the security of the energy system, which was built for a cooler world with less extreme weather events, the report said.
Bending the emissions curve onto a path consistent with 1.5 °C remains possible but very difficult, it continues.
The costs of inaction could be enormous: despite the impressive clean energy growth based on today’s policy settings, global emissions would remain high enough to push up global average temperatures by around 2.4 °C this century, well above the key threshold set out in the Paris Agreement.
The report proposes a global strategy for getting the world on track by 2030 that consists of five “key” pillars, which it said could also provide the basis for a successful COP28 climate change conference.
- Tripling global renewable capacity.
- Doubling the rate of energy efficiency improvements.
- Slashing methane emissions from fossil fuel operations by 75%.
- Innovating large-scale financing mechanisms to triple clean energy investments in emerging and developing economies.
- Ensuring an orderly decline in the use of fossil fuels, including an end to new approvals of unabated coal-fired power plants.
“Every country needs to find its own pathway, but international cooperation is crucial for accelerating clean energy transitions,” Birol said.
“In particular, the speed at which emissions decline will hinge in large part on our ability to finance sustainable solutions to meet rising energy demand from the world’s fast growing economies. This all points to the vital importance of redoubling collaboration and cooperation, not retreating from them,” the report said.