(BERLIN, Germany) — The world must take “radical action” to shift away from fossil fuels, including investing $5.7 trillion annually in solar, wind, and other forms of clean power this decade to ensure that global warming doesn’t pass dangerous thresholds, the head of the International Renewable Energy Agency said Tuesday.
A 348-page report on global energy transition proposes additional measures, including increasing energy efficiency, increasing electrification and expanding use of hydrogen gas.
According to scientists, global carbon emissions should drop by at least 45% over the decade. Recent data shows that they have been increasing, not decreasing, partly due to increased energy consumption and an increase in fossil fuel use.
“The energy transition is far from being on track and anything short of radical action in the coming years will diminish, even eliminate, chances to meet our climate goals,” said Francesco La Camera, the director-general of IRENA.
Seven years ago, countries agreed in Paris that global warming should be limited to 2°C (3.6 F), and ideally not more than 1.5°C (2.7 F) to prevent potentially disastrous consequences. A recent U.N. panel of scientists found that global warming is already affecting billions, with temperatures rising more than 1 degree Celsius above preindustrial levels.
La Camera told an energy conference in Berlin that “not only the 1.5 C, the 2 C goal is really in danger if we don’t act and don’t make a dramatic change in the way we produce and consume energy.”
IRENA, which is based in the oil-rich Gulf emirate of Abu Dhabi-based IRENA, said investments of $700 billion should be diverted away from the fossil fuel sector each year to avoid creating wells, pipelines and power plants that can’t be used anymore.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres also supported this call, calling for an end the private financing of coal-power plants, which reached record levels last year.
“Lenders need to recognize that coal and fossil fuels are futile investments that will lead to billions of dollars in stranded assets,” he said.
With countries such as the United States ramping up domestic fossil fuel production amid energy price hikes and fears of supply shortages because of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Guterres urged governments not to delay the shift away from fossil fuels.
“The current crisis shows that we must accelerate, not slow, the renewable energy transition,” he said. “This is the only true path to energy security.”
These calls met with mixed reactions.
This week’s forum was held in Dubai by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabian energy ministers. They also spoke out against the oil cartel secretary general.
Although the Gulf countries pledged to cut their emission to net zero within their own borders, they claim that their crude oil is less carbon-intensive than other sources and do not plan to decrease production. OPEC anticipates that there will be more oil in the future, largely due to a boom in Asia.
Germany is seeking to reduce carbon emissions by 2045, and has recently unveiled a number of measures that will further increase renewable power. However, Germany still continues to use coal as a source of energy.
RWE won a case in court this week that granted it permission to bulldoze Luetzerath, a western German village in order to expand a nearby mine of lignite.
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