New Climate Change Report Has Hopeful Tone

International Energy Agency acknowledges 'spectacular increase' in clean energy tech
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2023 3:24 PM CDT
Amid High Emissions, We Have 'Reasons to Be Hopeful'
International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol delivers his speech at the opening session of the IEA ministerial meeting in Paris on March 23, 2022.   (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

The remarkable growth of clean energy technologies, including electric vehicles, is offering a glimmer of hope as the world faces the effects of a warming planet. In a new report, the Paris-based International Energy Agency finds the path to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, the target outlined in the 2015 Paris climate agreement as needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change, "has narrowed in the past two years." But a "spectacular increase" in clean energy technologies is "keeping it open," says IEA executive director Fatih Birol, per the CBC and NPR. As the CBC notes, "solar power capacity increased nearly 50% in the last two years and electric car sales increased by 240%."

"The global climate continues to change at a frightening speed," but "we see that there are legitimate reasons to be hopeful," Birol says, per the CBC. "Mainly, we are seeing that a new clean energy economy is emerging around the world." The assessment isn't all rosy. "Instead of starting to fall as envisaged in our 2021 report, demand for fossil fuel has increased," reads the report, which blames a lack of investment in supply chains for clean energy as well as Russia's war in Ukraine. It finds carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector hit a new peak of 37 gigatons in 2022, 1% above pre-pandemic levels. We need to cut "stubbornly high emissions" now, otherwise we'll require massive deployment of carbon removal technologies, which are "expensive and unproven" at the scale that would be required, per the report.

In response, American Petroleum Institute senior vice president Dustin Meyer said "policymakers should not ignore current market realities—which are clearly signaling the need for more supply of oil and natural gas—in favor of any scenario models with predetermined outcomes." The report does leave a little room for new fossil fuel developments to avoid "damaging price spikes or supply gluts," NPR reports. But it also calls for a faster transition away from fossil fuels. To meet targets, the report says global renewable power capacity needs to triple by 2030. Spending on clean energy will need to rise from $1.8 trillion in 2023 to $4.5 trillion by the early 2030s, while energy sector methane emissions need to fall by 75%, according to the report. "Strong international cooperation is crucial to success," says Birol. (Read more International Energy Agency stories.)

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