When it comes to the climate crisis, it's crucial to acknowledge the positive developments as we strive for a more sustainable and environmentally balanced future. According to the latest report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the intergovernmental organisation for the global energy sector, there have been significant strides made.
The report, titled "The Net Zero Roadmap: A Global Pathway to Keep the 1.5 °C Goal in Reach", assesses our progress in addressing climate change. The good news is that since the 2015 Paris Agreement, governments have made substantial efforts to reduce their climate pollution. The use of clean technologies is rapidly increasing, and global temperatures are now on a less perilous trajectory compared to a decade ago.
However, we must expedite our progress to meet the Paris Agreement targets, which aim to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius and ideally to no more than 1.5°C above preindustrial levels. Achieving the more ambitious 1.5°C goal necessitates achieving net zero emissions by around 2050.
The report offers a clear assessment of where we have made sufficient progress, where we are falling short, and what it will take to stay on course to attain net zero global climate pollution by 2050.
Before the Paris Agreement, we were on track to cause a potentially catastrophic 3.5°C global warming by 2100. This level of global warming, as per the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, would endanger 40 - 70 per cent of species worldwide with extinction. Less than a decade later, climate policies implemented globally have put us on a path towards approximately 2.5°C warming by 2100. While it is not yet sufficient to meet the Paris targets, it represents a significant improvement from our pre-Paris trajectory.
The report predicts that the world is on course to prevent the emission of 7.5 billion tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide between 2015 and 2030 compared to the pre-Paris business-as-usual scenario. A substantial portion of this reduction, 40 per cent, can be attributed to solar panels, with wind turbines contributing 27 per cent and electric vehicles 13 per cent.
In fact, between 2015 and 2023, the number of solar panels installed globally has increased by over 400 per cent, electric car sales have surged by nearly 2,000 per cent, residential heat pump sales have risen by 225 per cent, and battery storage capacity additions have soared by 2,500 per cent.
Approximately one-third of all solar panels ever deployed in human history were installed in the past two years, along with 60 per cent of all electric car sales and 60 per cent of energy storage battery installations. These technologies play a crucial role in achieving net zero climate pollution by 2050.
To achieve the net zero 2050 target, the IEA estimates that by 2030, the number of solar panels installed globally must be five times larger than it is today, and electric vehicles must make up over 65 per cent of new global car sales, up from around 16 per cent at present. While these numbers may seem challenging, the IEA reports that the manufacturing capacity for solar PV and batteries is expected to meet the deployment requirements for the net-zero scenario through 2030.
The report also notes that several key fossil fuel technologies are in decline. Fossil fuel-based electricity capacity additions peaked in 2012 and had fallen to less than half their peak by 2022, and sales of internal combustion engine vehicles peaked in 2017, with a 25 per cent decline from that peak by 2022. As a result, the IEA forecasts that global climate pollution will peak by the mid-2020s.
Nevertheless, countries must implement more policies to accelerate the transition to clean energy. In the IEA's net zero scenario, all regions are expected to introduce carbon pricing and other policies to drive clean energy transitions, with advanced economies leading in carbon pricing implementation. While some developed countries, like those in Europe and Canada, have adopted robust climate pollution pricing systems, others, such as the United States and Australia, have yet to do so.
Additionally, the net zero scenario necessitates the early retirement of some existing fossil fuel infrastructure. The report reveals that planned investments in fossil fuels between 2023 and 2035 are USD $3.6 trillion higher than in the net zero scenario.
In summary, the report emphasizes that taking maximal action today to accelerate the transition to clean energy solutions is essential to avoid the increased risks associated with further global warming and climate change. Delaying this transition would result in the entrenchment of fossil fuel infrastructure, which would need to be retired prematurely, incurring significant costs for future atmospheric carbon removal and leading to dangerous levels of global warming beyond the Paris Agreement targets.
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