IEA Urges Rich Nations and China to Fast-Track Carbon Neutrality

Rich countries and developing economies alike will have to significantly advance their already ambitious carbon neutrality targets, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday, emphasizing that the rise of “clean energy” was the main lever. to keep climate goals within reach. “Advanced economies” such as the United States and the European Union will have to advance their carbon neutrality objective by 5 years – from 2050 to 2045 – and China by 10 years to 2050, to stay on track. the Paris Agreement and thus give the world a chance to limit global warming to +1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era, the IEA estimated in a new report.

“The energy sector is evolving faster than many people think, but there is still much to do and time is running out,” said the OECD energy agency based in Paris. Its report comes a few weeks before crucial negotiations at the 28th United Nations Climate Conference in Dubai where the future of fossil fuels is expected to give rise to fierce debates. This is the update of its “Net Zero Roadmap”, a roadmap for carbon neutrality in 2050, the publication of which in 2021 had left its mark by calling on the world to abandon “now” any new oil or gas projects. gas.

Emissions remain high

Two years later, what is the assessment? Progress is there, as evidenced by the rapid growth of solar electricity and the electrification of the vehicle fleet, which according to the IEA makes it possible to keep within reach the most ambitious climate objectives of the agreement. Paris in 2015. At the same time, during the last two years, “emissions from the energy sector have remained stubbornly high, reaching a new record of 37 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2022”, 1% more than in 2019, notes the IEA.

“The path to (the objective of) 1.5°C has narrowed over the last two years, but the growth of clean energy technologies keeps it open,” wants to believe the IEA, which also calls for “energy efficiency”. “The development of clean energies is the main factor behind a drop in demand for fossil fuels of more than 25% this decade” and their rise leads to a drop in CO2 emissions in energy by 35% by 2030, according to its updated scenario.

“As COP28 approaches, the latest scientific data is unequivocal: the era of fossil fuels is coming to an end,” commented Laurence Tubiana, president of the European Climate Foundation. The IEA recently claimed that peak demand for all fossil fuels – oil, gas and coal – will be reached “in the next few years” of the decade, thanks to the surge in cleaner energy and electric cars.

Watch out for the slightest delay

“Encouraging” certainly but “not sufficient to achieve the 1.5°C objective”, insists the Agency, stressing that “almost all countries must bring forward their carbon neutrality target dates”. “Even a small delay” in reducing emissions beyond their current commitments, “would result in a global temperature above 1.5°C for almost 50 years”, warns the IEA while a recent report of the UN warned that the objectives of the Paris agreement were threatened by the lack of ambition of countries.

However, with current warming of around 1.2 degrees compared to the pre-industrial era, the world is already experiencing an increase in destructive climate disasters, hitting vulnerable populations hardest. A delay in ambitions would also push countries to make greater use of CO2 capture technologies that are nevertheless “expensive” and still “unproven on a large scale”, estimates the IEA, thus supporting the growing criticism of these industrial or based technologies. on nature promising to extract CO2 from the atmosphere and store it sustainably.

If such technologies fail to reach the required scale – including filtering 0.1% of the atmosphere each year by 2100 – reducing temperatures to 1.5°C “would not be possible”, warns the ‘OUCH.

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