In its latest edition of the ‘World Energy Outlook 2023’, released on Tuesday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says that “as things stand, demand for fossil fuels is likely to remain far too high” to maintain the most ambitious climate goal of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement: to limit the rise in average global temperatures to 1,5°C compared to the pre-industrial era.
These risks worsen climate impacts after a year of record-breaking heat and undermine the energy system’s security, built for a cooler world with fewer extreme weather events. “Bending the emissions curve” to limit global warming to 1,5°C is still “possible”, but the path promises to be “very difficult”, the IEA report warns.
Not enough to limit global warming
The phenomenal rise of clean energy technologies such as solar, wind, electric cars, and heat pumps is reshaping how we power everything from factories and vehicles to home appliances and heating systems.
“However, despite the impressive growth in clean energy”, as observed in current policies, greenhouse gas emissions would remain “significant enough” to cause global average temperatures to rise by around 2,4°C this century.
‘The sooner, the better’
“The transition to clean energy is underway worldwide and is inevitable. It’s not a question of ‘if’, it’s just a question of ‘how soon’ – and the sooner, the better for all of us,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, commenting in a press release on the release of the report.
The IEA estimates that there should be ten times more electric vehicles on the road globally than today. At the same time, the share of renewables in the global electricity mix should approach 50% (compared to 30% currently). Progress is visible, with investments in clean energy up 40% since 2020, but “stronger policies are needed”.
The IEA expects gas, oil, and coal demand to peak this decade. “Governments, businesses, and investors must support clean energy transitions rather than hinder them,” added Fatih Birol. “There are immense benefits on offer, including new industrial opportunities and jobs, greater energy security, cleaner air, universal energy access, and a safer climate for everyone.”
“The urgent challenge is accelerating the pace of new clean energy projects. The speed at which emissions fall will largely depend on our ability to finance sustainable solutions to meet the growing energy demand of fast-growing economies,” concluded Mr. Birol.
The report appears a few weeks before crucial negotiations at the 28th United Nations Climate Conference in Dubai (November 30th to December 12th).