According to the World Energy Outlook 2016, issued by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Paris Agreement, which came into force on 4 November 2016, is a major step forward in the fight against global warming.
However, the report, which forecast through 2040, states that meeting more ambitious climate goals will be extremely challenging and would require a step up change in the pace of decarbonisation and efficiency.
Implementing current international pledges will only slow down the projected rise in energy-related carbon emissions from an average of 650 million tonnes per year since 2000 to around 150 million tonnes per year in 2040, the analysis noted.
The IEA’s study further underscored that while this is a significant achievement, it is far from enough to avoid the worst impact of climate change as it would only limit the rise in average global temperatures to 2.7°C by 2100.
Enforcing policies to realise Paris Agreement goals
The World Energy Outlook 2016 also noted that although the path to 2°C is tough, it can be achieved if policies to accelerate further low carbon technologies and energy efficiency are put in place across all sectors.
“It would require that carbon emissions peak in the next few years and that the global economy becomes carbon neutral by the end of the century,” the report stated.
Ambitions to further limit temperature gains, beyond 2°C, would require even bigger efforts. For example, in the WEO-2016 2°C scenario, the number of electric cars would need to exceed 700 million by 2040, and displace more than 6 million barrels per day of oil demand.
Expanding the scope of renewables
“Renewables make very large strides in coming decades but their gains remain largely confined to electricity generation,” the IEA’s executive director, Dr Fatih Birol said.
“The next frontier for the renewable story is to expand their use in the industrial, building and transportation sectors where enormous potential for growth exists,” Birol added.
As a result of major transformations in the global energy system that take place over the next decades, renewables and natural gas are the big winners in the race to meet energy demand growth until 2040, he highlighted.
The IEA’s official noted: “We see clear winners for the next 25 years – natural gas but especially wind and solar – replacing the champion of the previous 25 years, coal.
“But there is no single story about the future of global energy: in practice, government policies will determine where we go from here.”