Triple spending on low-carbon energy, says IEA

6th May 2015

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  • Renewable ,
  • Mitigation


Fiona Sharp

Clean energy progress is falling well short of the levels needed to limit global temperature increases to 2°C, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

In a report analysing the state-of-play in the clean-energy sector, the agency warns that it will be challenging for the world to meet its climate goals solely through the UN negotiating process. Large-scale development and deployment of new, groundbreaking energy technologies is key to mobilising climate action, it says.

Innovation in energy technologies has driven social and economic changes over the past century, the IEA notes. However, it warns that, although there has been exciting progress made in the development of solar panels and fuel economy improvements for cars, global environmental and energy targets rely on further technology development.

The agency estimates that total annual spending by governments on energy research and development at around $17 billion, but says this level needs to be tripled. It also recommends that governments and the private sector work together to shift the focus of R&D to low-carbon technologies.

Not only will more support for clean technologies help the world achieve its goal of keeping temperature rises below 2°C, it will also improve energy security, the report states. The agency calculates that every dollar invested in clean energy technologies will save nearly $3 in avoided fuel costs by 2050.

Governments are key to supporting markets for new sources of energy, the IEA points out, citing public support for renewable energy as key to transforming the prospects for wind and solar technologies. Even though government incentives have not always been efficiently targeted, they have helped to drive investment and both technologies, which are now the lowest-cost source of power in several countries, it says.

"This result, unthinkable only a decade or so ago, is the power of innovation. Given our current climate realities, more of that power must be unleashed on the world," IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven said.

Yesterday, a report by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change warned that national emissions reduction pledges made so far would not achieve the 2C limit and that governments need to be more ambitious.


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