According to the International Energy Agency, current plans to reduce global carbon emissions would fall 60 percent short of its 2050 net zero objective, as leaders are encouraged to utilize the next Cop26 climate summit to send a “unmistakable signal” with specific policy measures.
According to the International Energy Agency’s annual World Energy Outlook, which was revamped this year as a “guidebook” for world leaders attending the Glasgow summit, carbon emissions will fall by just 40% by the middle of the century if nations keep to their climate promises.
The gap between existing plans and the changes required to achieve the net zero objective, according to the organization, is “stark,” needing up to $4 trillion (£2.94 trillion) in investment over the next decade alone to close the gap.
Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director, told the Guardian that big economies recovering from Covid-19 were already missing out on the chance to boost renewable energy investment.
“We’re seeing an unsustainable rebound from the epidemic,” he added, referring to portions of the study that show coal consumption increasing dramatically, leading to the second-largest increase in CO2 emissions in history.
Birol urged poorer countries to make more stringent pledges on decreasing carbon emissions. However, he stated that this would not be possible unless leaders from wealthier countries attending Cop26 took efforts to unleash the flow of money into emerging economies by putting pressure on private investors.
“I’d want to see world leaders… gather and send a political statement to the globe stating that we are committed to a sustainable energy future.”
“[They should say] we are determined, because if you invest in outdated, polluting energy sources, you risk losing your money.” You’ll make a lot of money if you invest in renewable energy.”
According to the IEA’s forecast, 70 percent of the $4 trillion in investment needed to attain net zero must go to emerging markets and developing countries.
Birol believes that the world’s most powerful leaders might make it a “necessary job” for the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to prioritize renewable energy projects in such nations, serving as a spur for private investments.
The warning comes as the UK and Europe grapple with sky-high gas prices, which threaten to raise winter costs for consumers, close industries, and disrupt already-strained food and retail supply chains.
The issue has brought attention to the dangers of reliance on volatile fossil fuels, as well as the reality that the area still depends largely on gas, with renewables failing to satisfy energy demands.
According to the IEA, the price squeeze has provided “early warning” of the dangers of moving too slowly toward renewables. Recent allegations that the energy price crisis was partially driven by efforts to achieve the transition were called “inaccurate and misleading” by Birol. “We will see that in a clean energy future, consumer shocks from doubling oil and gas prices will be far less felt,” he added.
As the UK’s heavy industry appealed with the government for additional help to cope with rising energy costs, Birol agreed that “temporary measures” could be required to preserve ailing businesses, as long as this did not jeopardize the clean energy transition.
Despite the IEA’s worries about insufficient progress toward net zero, the organization – which was founded by major economies in the aftermath of the 1973 oil crisis – claimed that most of the additional investment needed to achieve the goal could be done relatively cheaply.
According to the IEA, initiatives that “pay for themselves” such as boosting efficiency, preventing gas leakage, or installing wind or solar in locations where they are already cheap and efficient may account for more than 40% of the needed reduction in emissions.
The IEA also mentioned the potential economic benefits of net zero energy. It said that current promises to cut emissions would result in the creation of 13 million jobs, but that ramping up steps to reach the objective would double that number.
The needed investment would generate a market worth well over $1 trillion per year for wind turbines, solar panels, lithium-ion batteries, electrolysers, and fuel cells, equal to the existing oil industry, according to the report.