IEA says route to net zero requires more cash and less politics

By Forrest Crellin

PARIS (Reuters) – Record growth in clean energy technology, including solar panels and electric vehicles, means it is still possible to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday.

But it also said the world would need need to invest nearly $4.5 trillion per year in the transition to cleaner energy from the start of the next decade, up from spending of $1.8 trillion expected in 2023.

Temperatures have hit record levels this year and global averages are around 1.1C higher compared with the pre-industrial average.

That compares with the goal set by the 2015 U.N. Paris Agreement to keep global temperature rises well below 2C, while pursuing efforts to limit them to 1.5C to prevent the most severe consequences, such as drought, floods and increased wildfires.

In its update to its Net Zero Roadmap, which proposes scenarios to reach net zero emissions by the middle of the century, the IEA said an increase in solar power capacity and in electric vehicle (EV) sales since 2021 were in line with targets, as well as infrastructure plans in both fields.

Much more effort, however, is still required as a tripling of global renewable capacity, a doubling of energy efficient infrastructure, an increase in heat pump sales and a further rise in EV use are needed by 2030, the IEA said.

It also called for a 75% cut in energy sector methane emissions by 2030, which would cost an estimated $75 billion, just 2% of net income received by the oil and gas industry in 2022.

The IEA pathway to net zero will also require an equitable transition, taking into account national circumstances and requiring advanced economies to reach net zero sooner than developing economies, the report said.

Despite this year’s extreme weather, politicians, mindful of the cost-of-living crisis and seeking re-election. have been backsliding on climate pledges.

“Governments need to separate climate from geopolitics, given the scale of the challenge at hand,” IEA director Faith Birol said.

(Reporting by Forrest Crellin; editing by Barbara Lewis)