The war in Ukraine is likely to speed up the transition to clean energy, the IEA says

WASHINGTON – The energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could accelerate, rather than slow, the shift away from fossil fuels and toward clean technologies such as wind, solar and electric vehicles, the world’s leading energy agency said Thursday.

Natural gas shortages in Ukraine have prompted some countries to burn more fossil fuels such as coal this year, but the impact is expected to be short-lived, according to the World Energy Agency’s annual World Energy Outlook. A 524-page report predicting global energy trends through 2050.

Instead, for the first time, the agency predicts that demand for all types of fossil fuels will be high in the near future.

One major reason for this year’s rise in fossil fuel prices is that many countries have responded by adopting wind turbines, solar panels, nuclear power plants, hydrogen fuels, electric vehicles and electric heat pumps. In the United States, Congress approved more than $370 billion in spending for such technologies under the recently passed Inflationary Reduction Act. Japan is pursuing a new “green transformation” program to help support nuclear power, hydrogen and other low-emissions technologies. China, India and South Korea have all set national targets for renewable and nuclear power.

However, the transition to clean energy sources is not happening fast enough to avoid dangerous global warming, the agency said, unless governments take drastic measures to reduce planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions in the next few years. .

Based on current policies set by national governments, global coal use is expected to decline over the next few years, natural gas demand may hit a plateau by the end of this decade, and oil use by the mid-2030s.

Meanwhile, global investment in clean energy is now expected to increase significantly from $1.3 trillion in 2022 to $2 trillion in 2030, according to the agency.

“It is noteworthy that many of these new clean energy targets are not being implemented solely because of climate change,” said Fatih Birol, director general of the agency, in an interview. “In addition, the big drivers are energy security and industrial policies – many countries want to be at the forefront of the future energy industry.”

Current energy policies put the world on track to reach a peak in carbon dioxide emissions by 2025 and a 2.5 degree Celsius (4.5 degree Fahrenheit) warming compared to pre-industrial levels by 2100, the Energy Agency estimates. That’s consistent with a separate forecast released by the United Nations on Wednesday, which analyzed governments’ pledges to tackle emissions.

In contrast, many world leaders hope to limit global warming to 1.5°C to avoid some of the worst and most irreversible disasters, such as widespread crop failures or ecosystem collapse. This would require significant reductions in greenhouse gases, which would not only increase emissions over the next few years, but would be halved by the end of this decade, scientists say.

“If we’re going to hit those more ambitious climate goals, we need to see about $4 trillion in clean energy investment by 2030,” Dr. Birol said, or double what the agency is doing now. “There is not enough investment going into the developing world in particular.”

This year, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels will increase by about 1 percent and are expected to peak. (Coal is the most polluting of all fossil fuels.)

Still, this is far less progress than some analysts feared at the start of the war in Ukraine. Without the rapid deployment of wind farms, solar panels and electric cars worldwide, the increase in emissions would have tripled, the agency said. Rising energy prices and economic growth in Europe and China have contributed to weak emissions reductions.

And the recent surge in coal use may be temporary. European countries plan to install approximately 50 gigawatts worth of renewable energy next year. And globally, the agency does not expect investment in new coal plants to increase more than expected.

Russia, a leading exporter of fossil fuels, is expected to be particularly hard hit by the power outage. While European countries are trying to reduce their dependence on Russian oil and gas, Russia may face a challenge in finding new markets for natural gas in Asia, the report said. As a result, Russian fossil fuel exports are unlikely to return to pre-war levels.

But while the current energy crisis is expected to benefit clean technologies in the long run, it is now taking a serious toll, the report said.

Governments around the world have committed nearly $500 billion to protect consumers from high energy prices. And while European countries currently seem to have enough natural gas storage to get through this year’s mild winter, the report warns that next winter in Europe “could be even more severe” as stocks dwindle and new supplies to replace Russian gas. Like increasing shipments from the United States or Qatar, they are slow to come online.

The situation appears to be more dire in developing countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh, where liquefied natural gas has been supplied to Europe and where energy is scarce. Around 75 million people around the world who will soon have access to electricity may lose it this year, according to the report. If this happens, it will be the first increase in the number of people in the world without access to modern energy in ten years.

There is still the possibility that rising energy prices could lead to social unrest and pressure on climate and clean energy policies in some countries. The report concludes that climate change policies are not primarily responsible for rising prices. Instead, renewable energy and indoor climate efforts have blunted the impact of energy shocks in many regions – always putting pressure on governments to change course, Dr Birol said.

The new report comes less than two weeks before nations gather for UN climate talks in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh, where diplomats will discuss efforts to curb fossil fuel emissions and shift more financial aid from the rich to the poor. Nations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *