Governments are not making enough renewable energy investment and are transitioning too slowly to achieve climate goals and limit global temperature rise under 2°C.

What is Happening? 

Global investment in renewable and clean energy must triple by the end of this decade to be able to meet Paris Agreement goals and climate pledges, said the International Energy Agency) in a new report on Wednesday, October 13. 

The annual World Energy Outlook (WEO), which advises energy policies to governments and provides expectations over the future use of coal, oil and gas, says that investment in renewable energy must expand significantly following the COVID-19 pandemic, especially amid current energy price surges and that supply has struggled to keep up with demand. 

The report highlighted the fact that despite projected investment in oil and gas now aligned with net zero greenhouse gas emission by 2050, public spending on renewable power is only a third of levels the world needs to generate in order to meet the Paris Agreement. 

“There is a gross mismatch, and the longer this mismatch persists, the greater the risk of further sharp price swings and increased volatility in the future,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol said to the Financial Times. 

Even if all governments adopt and implement current net zero pledges in full and on schedule, the world could only cut about 20% of carbon emissions by 2030 and global temperatures would rise by 2.1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100, exceeding the 1.5°C temperature rise set out in the Paris Accords. 

The report comes just weeks ahead of the all too critical UN climate summit, where world leaders will gather and negotiate on global and individual climate goals and targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Based on this data, the IEA is urging governments to make stronger commitments and a lot more investments in clean energy. 

Though global emissions have dropped during the pandemic due to national lockdowns and travel restrictions, this year’s emissions are already back to pre-pandemic levels and experiencing a rise in coal demand. Extreme volatility in energy markets  will like become a frequent occurrence, and switching to more renewables would reduce countries’ vulnerabilities to the market. 

The IEA believes that tripling investment is entirely achievable by the end of the decade by making the clean energy transition more efficient. “More than 40% of the required emissions reductions would come from measures that pay for themselves, such as improving efficiency, limiting gas leakage, or installing wind or solar in places where they are now the most competitive electricity generation technologies,” said in the report.

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