IEA Sees A Ray Of Sunshine In The Gloom Of Planetary Collapse

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Everybody is aware of the Earth is hotter, storms are stronger, droughts are longer, and individuals are dying from extreme warmth. Everybody additionally is aware of that burning fossil fuels is the first purpose why the Earth is getting hotter. Local weather grief is actual and rising amongst those that are paying consideration. However the IEA, whose mission is to trace who’s utilizing what vitality and the way a lot of it, stated this week the explosion of solar energy world wide affords a glimmer of hope that we gained’t immolate ourselves by overheating our little blue orb past the purpose the place people can survive. Yay!

Fatih Birol, the manager director of the IEA and a world famend vitality economist, stated this week that, whereas rather more must be completed, the fast uptake of solar energy and electrical automobiles have been encouraging.

“Regardless of the size of the challenges, I really feel extra optimistic than I felt two years in the past. Photo voltaic photovoltaic installations and electrical car gross sales are completely in step with what we stated they need to be, to be on observe to succeed in internet zero by 2050, and thus keep inside 1.5ºC. Clear vitality investments within the final two years have seen a staggering 40% improve.”

Birol’s phrases have been extensively reported. The Guardian, Time, AP, ABC Information, Sky Information, and lots of extra information shops are trumpeting Birol’s announcement. And that’s an issue. Why? As a result of whereas a ray of sunshine is welcome information, there’s a sturdy risk that this pronouncement by the top of the IEA will give cowl to fossil gas corporations and local weather change deniers to say, “See? Nothing to fret about. Every thing’s effective. Let’s simply proceed doing what we’ve got all the time completed. Return to sleep, everybody.”

The IEA Internet Zero Roadmap

Picture credit score: IEA

Birol’s remarks got here because the IEA launched its newest Internet Zero Roadmap report, which inspires nations to deliver the online zero plans ahead as a lot as attainable. The primary Internet Zero Roadmap was revealed in 2021. So much has modified since then. Within the govt abstract, the IEA report says,

“The case for reworking the worldwide vitality system in step with the 1.5 °C purpose has by no means been stronger. August 2023 was the most popular on document by a big margin, and the most popular month ever after July 2023. The impacts of local weather change are more and more frequent and extreme, and scientific warnings concerning the risks of the present pathway have change into stronger than ever.

“World carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the vitality sector reached a brand new document excessive of 37 billion tonnes (Gt) in 2022, 1% above their pre-pandemic stage, however are set to peak this decade. The pace of the roll-out of key clear vitality applied sciences signifies that the IEA now tasks that demand for coal, oil and pure gasoline will all peak this decade even with none new local weather insurance policies. That is encouraging, however not practically sufficient for the 1.5 °C purpose.”

IEA Calls For Tripling Renewable Vitality

The report requires tripling the quantity of renewable vitality obtainable on this planet by 2030. It additionally requires chopping methane emissions by 75%, one thing that ought to pretty straightforward to attain, for the reason that value of methane gasoline has elevated to the purpose the place it’s cheaper for corporations to plug their leaks and promote it for added income relatively than letting it escape unimpeded into the environment.

It’s laughable that the vaunted capitalist mannequin encourages corporations to waste their most treasured assets as a result of there isn’t a financial penalty for polluting the setting, however that’s the system we’ve got. Most of the objectives the IEA is selling might be extra simply completed if such wastefulness was penalized relatively than ignored.

Birol went on to say, “A very powerful problem [to limiting temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels] is the dearth of worldwide cooperation. COP 28 is a essential juncture, and may ship a powerful sign to vitality markets that governments are taking the local weather critically. They need to transfer to scale back the consumption of unabated fossil fuels. To cut back fossil gas emissions, we have to cut back demand for fossil fuels. It is a golden situation, if we’re to succeed in our local weather objectives. To cut back fossil gas emissions, we have to cut back demand for fossil fuels. It is a golden situation, if we’re to succeed in our local weather objectives.”

Greenhouse Fuel Emissions Are Not Falling

Birol is troubled by the truth that greenhouse gasoline emissions, that are principally a results of burning coal, methane gasoline, and fuels derived from oil, are remaining fixed as a substitute of declining. In actual fact, they reached a brand new document of 37 gigatons final 12 months. So simply how a lot is that? In accordance with NASA, one gigaton is the same as one billion metric tons, 2.2 trillion kilos, or 10,000 totally loaded U.S. plane carriers.

37 gigatons, due to this fact, is the same as 370,000 plane carriers. We will’t proceed placing that a lot junk into the environment and proceed to outlive as a species. That needs to be intuitively apparent to probably the most informal observer.

“As a substitute of beginning to fall as envisaged in our 2021 report, demand for fossil gas has elevated,” the IEA report says, largely due to Russia’s felony invasion of Ukraine and continued progress in investments in fossil gas extraction and manufacturing,

“The actions we have to take now are more and more large, and there’s no slack left within the plan,” Dave Jones, an vitality analyst at local weather suppose tank Ember, advised Time. “It’s now within the fingers of governments to ship.” He identified that the time to start out delivering on these objectives is on the COP 28 convention in Dubai that can happen in November and December of this 12 months.

COP 28 In Dubai

The truth that COP 28 is going on in Dubai and might be led by Sultan Al Jaber, who’s head of the UAE oil trade, has many individuals involved. In an interview with The Guardian earlier this 12 months, he was candid concerning the convention and his function.

“Phasing down fossil fuels is inevitable and it’s important — it’s going to occur. What I’m making an attempt to say is you possibly can’t unplug the world from the present vitality system earlier than you construct the brand new vitality system. It’s a transition — transitions don’t occur in a single day, transition takes time.

“After we signed as much as the internet hosting of COP 28, we knew precisely what we have been signing as much as. I don’t suppose there has ever been a rustic that has hosted the COP that didn’t get such a stress or warmth from activists and media, in order that’s a part of the sport. The scrutiny typically additionally makes us dig deeper into points, perceive higher, analyse extra to attract higher conclusions. By no means have I stated that I’ve all of the options, or I’ve all of the solutions.”

That appears pretty affordable and rational, however detractors are involved over semantics. Al Jaber talks of phasing down fossil fuels. They need to discuss phasing out fossil fuels. It’s a small however vital distinction. It could be a tragedy if the destiny of humanity is determined by such linguistic niceties.


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