IEA claims politics and economy must support sustainability push

There must be an “unprecedented global political and economic effort” to shift energy towards more sustainable means if climate targets are to be reached, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned.

The stark note comes within the IEA’s World Energy Outlook (WEO), the body’s annual analysis of global energy trends, this year’s edition of which was released earlier today (13 November).

The WEO discusses the “major transformations” that are underway, narrowing specifically on the expansion of renewables and growing electrification of the economy, charting them in various scenarios based on expected trends and datasets.

The IEA says there remain “mixed signals” on the pace and direction of change in the power sector. Solar PV, highlighted as an energy technology which is “charging ahead” globally, is set against other renewables and energy efficiency technologies which require a “big push”.

Globally energy demand is expected to grow by more than 25% by 2040, requiring more than US$2 trillion of annual investment.

In charting projections for electricity generation capacities and demand, the IEA has suggested there remains a significant gap between its forecasts and staying within those climate targets, requiring what the IEA has termed as a “systematic preference” for investments in sustainable energy technologies.

Fatih Birol, executive director at the IEA, noted that with more than 70% of global energy investments set to be government-driven, the “world’s energy destiny” is intertwined with global politics.

“Crafting the right policies and proper incentives will be critical to meeting our common goals of securing energy supplies, reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality in urban centres, and expanding basic access to energy in Africa and elsewhere,” he said.

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