Without large-scale and immediate action, catastrophic climate change is inevitable.
Governments are moving far too slow in the transition to low-carbon societies, making it impossible to reach the necessary carbon reduction targets, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), traditionally a rather conservative agency.
“The world’s energy system is being pushed to the breaking point. Our addiction to fossil fuels grows stronger each year. Many clean energy technologies are available but they are not being deployed quickly enough to avert potentially disastrous consequences,” Maria van der Hoeven, who is the executive director of the IEA, is quoted as saying.
Without an immediate reduction in carbon emissions, the planet will likely see warming of 6C by the end of the century.
Six degrees of warming would destroy agriculture in many areas and make large sections of the earth uninhabitable for humans, as well as raising sea levels, and causing mass migrations and the wars that come with them.
“The current state of affairs is unacceptable precisely because we have a responsibility and a golden opportunity to act. Energy related CO2 emissions are at historic highs, and under current policies, we estimate that energy use and CO2 emissions would increase by a third by 2020, and double by 2050. This would be likely to send global temperatures at least 6C higher within this century,” says Maria van der Hoeven.
The IEA will present its findings to the third Clean Energy Ministerial being held in London this week. It’s a key meeting of the world’s largest economies and emitters.
The IEA, considered the gold standard on energy research, ranked the progress on eleven important low-carbon indicators. It found that the world was currently on track to only meet one of them.
To make all the cuts that scientists say are needed, 28% of the world’s electricity should be generated with renewable sources by 2020, and 35% by 2035, currently only 16% of the world’s energy is generated by renewables.
Across the board, the necessary changes aren’t happening, carbon capture systems haven’t been built, energy efficiency isn’t being invested in, electric cars aren’t being used, and half of the new coal power plants are being built with old, inefficient designs rather than modern ones.
“The ministers meeting this week in London have an incredible opportunity before them. It is my hope that they heed our warning of slow progress, and act to seize the security, economic and environmental benefits that the clean energy transition can bring,” says Van der Hoeven.