International Energy Agency: Nations need to 'give a clear and unmistakable signal' of clean energy commitment

International Energy Agency: Nations need to 'give a clear and unmistakable signal' of clean energy commitment
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The leader of the International Energy Agency (IEA) said ahead of an upcoming climate summit that nations need to “give a clear and unmistakable sign” of their commitment to clean energy.

Fatih Birol, IEA’s executive director, made the comment in a statement announcing the release of the agency’s World Energy Outlook for 2021.

Birol said the push for clean energy is running against the “stubborn incumbency of fossil fuels in our energy systems.”

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“Governments need to resolve this at COP26 by giving a clear and unmistakable signal that they are committed to rapidly scaling up the clean and resilient technologies of the future,” Birol said. “The social and economic benefits of accelerating clean energy transitions are huge, and the costs of inaction are immense.”

According to the IEA’s report, renewable sources of energy like wind and solar continued to grow, and electric vehicles set new sales records despite the economic impacts of shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the “rapid but uneven economic recovery” from the coronavirus-induced recession is now putting strains on the energy system, sparking sharp price increases in natural gas, coal and electricity markets.

And despite the advances being made in renewable energy, there is a “large rebound” of coal and oil use, which is largely contributing to the second-largest annual increase in carbon dioxide in history.

The report states that public spending on sustainable energy in the economic recovery has only resulted in one-third of what is needed to “jolt the energy system on a new set of rails.”

The release of the IEA’s World Energy Outlook comes ahead of the COP26 meeting, which is being held from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 in in Glasgow, Scotland.

Under the Paris climate accord, the world’s countries agreed to attempt to limit the planet’s warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, with the further goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.  

But Birol said that reaching that goal requires a tripling of investment in clean energy projects and infrastructure over the next decade.

The majority of the investment is needed in developing economies, Birol said, where investing in projects is seven times more expensive than in advanced economies.