IEA warns of record emissions by 2023
Emissions of CO2 will reach record levels in 2023 and continue rising afterwards, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on July 20, warning that the world was falling short of the pathway set out in its recent Net Zero by 2050 report.
The Paris-based agency forecast in its new Sustainable Recovery Tracker that emissions by 2023 would be 800mn metric tons lower than if there had been no sustainable recovery efforts, but 3.5bn mt higher than the scenario in its net zero report. The predicted level will surpass the previous record amount of emissions registered in 2018.
Governments have set aside around $380bn for clean energy measures as part of their post-coronavirus economic recovery plans, and this should add $350bn/yr to spending on clean energy and electricity networks between 2021 and 2023, marking a 30% climb on levels in recent years. But this is still only 35% of the amount of investment that the IEA envisages as necessary for the world to remain on track for net-zero emissions by 2050.
While advanced economies are allocating 60% of the necessary investment to reach net zero, emerging and developing economies are only spending 20%, the IEA said. The latter category are placing more priority on emergency health and economic measures, and some might be reluctant to roll out big recovery plans, fearful of a resulting rise in inflation, which was a trend seen after the 2008 financial crisis, the agency concluded.
"Of more than $16 trillion being spent on recovery from COVID-19, only 2% is going to clean energy investments," IEA director Fatih Birol said, commenting on the findings. "What we will see is that 2023 will reach an all-time record high [in emissions]. This is very worrying."
Around 90% of the projected growth over the next three years will come from the developing world, and Birol called for financial support to help these nations invest more in clean energy.
"At the global scale, there is no lack of capital but that capital does not look at these projects in emerging economies," he explained. "There is a perception that the risk is higher."
The IMF and other international institutions need to provide more direct funds towards clean energy projects in developing countries, and richer nations should also step up their support. In 2009, richer nations promised to provide $100bn/yr to help poorer ones address climate change, but contributions only reached $80bn in 2018, according to the OECD. Birol said this $100bn target should be considered a "a floor not a ceiling."