The viral crisis, an opportunity to reshape the climate response: IEA

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Paris (AFP)

Only massive investment in clean energy can help weather the economic crisis caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic while putting the world on track to meet its climate change slowdown targets, the International Agency said on Tuesday. Energy.

In its annual report on energy markets for the coming decades, the IEA presents several scenarios as governments attempt to balance the health of their citizens and their economies.

For the first time, the World Energy Outlook report includes a path for the world to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050.

This is a target that some governments have already set for themselves and which would help ensure that the rise in global temperatures is contained well below 2 degrees Celsius, the overarching goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

While the global economy has taken a hit, it will only provide a temporary drop in emissions unless policies change dramatically, the IEA has warned.

“Despite a record drop in global emissions this year, the world is far from doing enough to put them into decisive decline,” said IEA director Fatih Birol.

“The economic downturn has temporarily suppressed emissions,” he added.

The IEA estimates that energy-related CO2 emissions will fall by 7% this year.

– Cleaner air than in confinements –

But as governments consider further economic stimulus, they could advance their climate goals by shifting investment toward clean energy.

“A radical shift in investing in clean energy, in line with the IEA’s sustainable recovery plan, offers a way to boost economic recovery, create jobs and reduce emissions,” the IEA said.

Earlier this year, the IEA and the International Monetary Fund presented a plan for governments to use environmental spending to create jobs and spur economic recovery.

It calls for an additional investment of $ 1 trillion per year over the next three years to improve energy efficiency, low-carbon power and electricity grids and more sustainable fuels.

Such an effort would have an immediate impact on the trajectory of emissions, making “2019 the definitive peak of global CO2 emissions”.

Switching to what the IEA calls its sustainable development scenario translates to “cleaner air than during the 2020 lockdowns … without disruption to economic activity or people’s lives.”

– Carbon neutral, positive for the climate –

However, he warned that adding renewable energy sources to the electricity grid will not be enough, as the existing industry needs to reduce its carbon footprint.

A number of countries have set targets for becoming carbon neutral by 2050, such as the EU, and for the first time the IEA has mapped out what would be needed to achieve this target globally.

In addition to further accelerating the adoption of clean energy and electric vehicles, the IEA has found that individual behavior is expected to change with less car trips over short distances, lower speed limits and less driving. short-haul flights.

“Achieving this path would be extremely difficult, but would make a significant difference in terms of reducing the risk of damaging climate change” as it would increase the chances that the global temperature increase will stay below 2 ° C.

The Christian Aid group has recognized that there is a unique opportunity for governments to act.

“With vast sums of money devoted to stimulating the economy, there is a unique opportunity to put the world on a path that ensures a safe climate for all,” said group climate expert Kat Kramer.

But she warned that it was not yet clear whether the transition to a zero carbon economy would happen quickly enough to avoid the most destructive effects of the climate crisis, as extreme weather and warmer temperatures are already causing the misery in the world.

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