The International Energy Agency (IEA) has published its latest “World Energy Outlook” report. It presents three scenarios exploring different possible futures and is partially available to view online. The opening line “the energy world is marked by a series of deep disparities” paints a clear and stark message: despite evidence and ever rising awareness, the gap between expectation and reality is widening. This will be at the cost of the climate, environment, public health and future generations.
The mid-placed ‘Stated Policies Scenario’ expects countries with “net zero” aspirations to go the distance in reshaping all aspects of their supply and consumption. However, the momentum behind clean energy technologies is not enough to offset the effects of an expanding global economy and growing population. In short, the rise in emissions is slowed but, with no peak before 2040, the world falls far short of shared sustainability goals.
To counter this, energy decision makers pursuing growth/expansion fuelled by coal (170GW of coal-fired power capacity is currently under construction worldwide) and liquid hydrocarbons must change from their current path. Transition targets can be delivered, whilst also meeting economic growth aspirations and ensuring energy security, provided actions are taken now and that it happens smoothly. Fully investing today in a combination of cleaner gas and renewables, rather than, for instance, further new coal fired power stations, would be a step in the right direction.