Current plans to reduce global carbon emissions will be 60% below their net zero target for 2050, the International Energy Agency said, as it urged leaders to use the upcoming climate conference Cop26 to send an “unequivocal signal” with concrete political plans.
In its annual World Energy Outlook, revised this year as a ‘guide’ for world leaders attending the Glasgow summit, the IEA predicted that carbon emissions would only decline by 40% by mid-century if countries were meeting their climate commitments.
The organization said the difference between current plans and the change needed to achieve the goal of net zero was ‘net’, requiring up to $ 4 billion (£ 2.94 billion) of investment in the over the next decade to bridge the gap.
IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol told the Guardian that major economies recovering from Covid-19 are already missing the opportunity to encourage investment in clean energy.
“We are seeing an unsustainable resumption of the pandemic,” he said, pointing to sections of the report that show a sharp increase in coal use, contributing to the second largest increase in CO.2 shows in history.
Birol called on developing economies in particular to make stronger commitments to reduce carbon emissions. But he said that could not happen without the leaders of the richest countries participating in Cop26 taking steps to unlock the flow of money to emerging economies, putting pressure on private investors.
“I would love to see world leaders… come together and send a political message to the world that we are committed to a clean energy future.
« [They should say] We are determined, if you invest in old power sources, dirty power sources, you may lose your money. If you invest in clean energy, you will make good profits.
The IEA Outlook estimates that 70% of the $ 4 billion investment needed to reach net zero must go to emerging markets and developing economies.
Birol said the most powerful world leaders could make it a “mandatory task” for organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to prioritize clean energy projects in these countries, acting as a catalyst for private capital.
The warning comes as the UK and Europe grapple with skyrocketing gas prices that threaten to increase winter costs for consumers, shut down factories and disrupt pressurized supply chains for food and retail.
The crisis has highlighted the danger of depending on fossil fuels subject to price volatility, but also the fact that the region still depends heavily on gas, renewable energies not yet making it possible to meet energy needs.
The IEA said the price crisis had given “an early warning” of the risk of moving too slowly towards renewables. Birol condemned as “inaccurate and misleading” recent claims that the energy price crisis was in part caused by efforts to make the transition. “We will see that in a clean energy world, the shocks resulting from the doubling of oil and gas prices will be much less felt by consumers,” he said.
As UK heavy industry pleaded with the government for more support to survive high energy costs, Birol acknowledged that “temporary measures” might be needed to save struggling industries, as long as this is needed. would not come at the expense of the clean energy transition.
Despite warnings from the IEA of insufficient progress towards net zero, the organization – created by major economies following the 1973 oil crisis – said much of the additional investment needed to achieve goal could be achieved relatively easily.
More than 40% of the required emission reduction could come from measures that “pay for themselves”, the IEA said, such as improving efficiency, limiting gas leaks or installing energy. wind or solar in places where they are already cheap and efficient.
The IEA also highlighted the potential economic opportunities of net zero. He said existing commitments to cut emissions would create 13 million jobs, but stepping up measures to meet the target would double that figure.
The required investment would create a market for wind turbines, solar panels, lithium-ion batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cells of more than $ 1 billion per year, comparable to the current oil market, he said. .