Current policy likely to push global average temperatures to 2.4 °C this century – IEA

By 2030, around half the planet’s energy will be provided by renewable resources and there will be ten times as many electric vehicles on the road. This is the prediction of the International Energy Agency who have today published their latest World Energy Outlook Report.

The World Energy Outlook is an authoritative, global source of energy analysis and projections and the latest report makes some positive predictions for the world energy landscape going forward but is quick to point out that more needs to be done.

body of water under cloudy sky during sunset

The report analyses three different scenarios:

  • The Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS) which is based on the current policy settings, including energy, climate and related industrial policies.
  • The Announced Pledges Scenario (APS) which assumes all national energy and climate targets made by governments are met in full and on time.
  • The Net Zero Emissions by 2050 (NZE) Scenario which limits global warming to 1.5 °C.

Amongst a lot of positives, the report found that additional progress is required to meet the NZE Scenario.

Even under STEPS – the least optimistic scenario – the report predicts there will be almost ten times as many electric cars on the world’s roads, solar panels will be generating more electricity than the entire US power system does now and renewables will be providing half the planet’s ’ electricity. It also anticipates that heat pumps and other electric heating systems will be outselling fossil fuel boilers and there will be three times as much investment going into new offshore wind projects than into new coal- and gas-fired power plants.

Under the APS scenario things look even rosier but the report finds that ‘even stronger measures would still be needed to keep alive the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.’ adding, ‘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.’

Five strategies are suggested, through which it proposes the 1.5°C could still be met:

  • Tripling global renewable capacity
  • Doubling the rate of energy efficiency improvements
  • Slashing methane emissions from fossil fuel operations by 75%
  • Innovative, large-scale financing mechanisms to triple clean energy investments in emerging and developing economies
  • Measures to ensure an orderly decline in the use of fossil fuels, including an end to new approvals of unabated coal-fired power plants.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said: ‘Every country needs to find its own pathway, but international cooperation is crucial for accelerating clean energy transitions,. 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.’


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