The world’s slow transition to cleaner energy, Energy News, ET EnergyWorld


PARIS: The transition to cleaner energy has progressed but not fast enough to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, as agreed in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

While the Covid-19 pandemic initially caused greenhouse gas emissions to drop along with the decline in economic activity, the pandemic may not have accelerated the shift to renewables.

Renewable energies are now the second largest source of electricity in the world with a share of 26% in 2019 – behind coal, but ahead of natural gas and nuclear.

Wind and solar have grown at annual rates of 22% and 36% respectively, with prices plunging since 1990.
Even during the pandemic, 26 gigawatts (GW) of capacity were added last year, setting a new record, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

But the use of fossil fuels in final consumption (electricity, transport fuel, heating and factory production) has remained stable.

At 80.3% in 2009, it was still 80.2% in 2019, as global energy consumption increases thanks to population growth and rising incomes in Asia.

Driven by tighter pollution regulations, major automakers are aiming to phase out internal combustion engines over the next decade or sharply cut production as they look to a fully electric future.

The roads are still littered with polluting cars: electric vehicles represent only five percent of new units sold.

The International Energy Agency says consumers continue to prefer large SUVs – they accounted for 42% of sales in 2020 – which pollute more than smaller models.

From Australia to China to the EU, more and more countries are installing their sites on green hydrogen for trucks and factories.
While the combustion of hydrogen for fuel emits only water, most of the gas is produced in a process that produces harmful emissions.

Finding cost-effective ways to produce clean hydrogen and develop the infrastructure for its use will require more effort, with the IEA urging a quadruple investment in the sector.

By mid-2020, some 44 countries and 31 cities representing 60% of global economic output had implemented carbon pricing systems (taxes or quotas), according to the I4CE think tank.

Carbon prices aim to make polluters pay part of the social costs of emissions, such as healthcare costs from poor air quality and crop damage from climate change.
Experts say the price must be between $ 40 and $ 80 per tonne of CO2 to push polluters to increase their efficiency or switch to renewable energy sources.

However, the price is less than $ 10 for 75 percent of the emissions covered.

Think tank Ren 21 said the coronavirus pandemic presented an opportunity to change public policies, but countries invested six times more money in fossil fuels than renewable energy projects in their economic stimulus plans. .

After falling seven percent thanks to the pandemic, CO2 emissions are expected to hit new records by 2023 if these investments are not moved.

Investments in renewable energies have been slipping for several years in emerging and developing countries except China, and the coronavirus pandemic has done nothing to change the situation.

These countries hold two-thirds of the world’s population and are responsible for 90 percent of emissions growth, but they only receive 20 percent of clean energy investments, according to the IEA.

Long ago dubbed “king coal” for its disproportionate role in fueling the world economy, the fuel remains widely used in Asia to meet the growing electricity needs of the region.
The global economic recovery means that demand for coal is expected to exceed its 2019 level and thus retain its crown of being the main source of greenhouse gas emissions.

China, which has been a major financier of coal projects in other countries, announced in September that it was ending the practice.

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