Climate pledges for COP21 slow energy sector emissions growth dramatically
But further effort will be needed to achieve two-degree goal
The International Energy Agency (IEA) released on Wednesday a World Energy Outlook (WEO) special briefing that outlines the energy sector implications of national climate pledges submitted for the upcoming climate summit in Paris (COP21). The briefing finds that if all countries meet goals outlined in their submitted pledges, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), growth in energy-related emissions-- which account for two-thirds of total greenhouse gas emissions --will slow to a relative crawl by 2030.
“The fact that over 150 countries – representing 90% of global economic activity and nearly 90% of global energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – have submitted pledges to reduce emissions is, in itself, remarkable,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “These pledges, together with the increasing engagement of the energy industry, are helping to build the necessary political momentum around the globe to seal a successful climate agreement in Paris”
The WEO special briefing finds that all of the INDC submissions take into account energy sector emissions and many include specific targets or actions to address them. If these pledges are met, then countries currently accounting for more than half of global economic activity will see their energy-related greenhouse gas emissions either plateau or be in decline by 2030. Global energy intensity, a measure of energy use per unit of economic output, would improve to 2030 at a rate almost three times faster than the rate seen since 2000. In the power sector, 70% of additional electricity generation to 2030 would be low-carbon. Significantly, the power sector – the world’s largest source of energy-related carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions – sees emissions plateau at close to today’s levels, effectively breaking the link between rising electricity demand and rising related CO2 emissions.
The full implementation of these pledges will require the energy sector to invest $13.5 trillion in energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies from 2015 to 2030, an annual average of $840 billion. However, despite these efforts, the pledges still fall short of the major course correction necessary to achieve the globally agreed climate goal of limiting average global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius, relative to pre-industrial levels.
“The energy industry needs a strong and clear signal from the Paris climate summit. Failing to send this signal will push energy investments in the wrong direction, locking-in unsustainable energy infrastructure for decades,” emphasised Dr Birol.
Achieving the ultimate climate goal will also hinge critically on innovation in the energy sector and on the deployment of new and emerging energy sector technologies that have the potential to deliver the transformational change needed to achieve deep levels of decarbonisation in the decades to come.