COP21 pledges will need $13.5 trillion energy sector investment says IEA

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has today released a special briefing document that outlines the energy sector implications of national decarbonisation pledges submitted for the upcoming December climate summit in Paris, known as COP21.

The briefing finds that if all countries meet the goals outlined in their submitted pledges, growth in energy-related emissions – which account for two-thirds of total greenhouse gas emissions – will “slow to a relative crawl by 2030”.   

And it calculates that the full implementation of these pledges will require the energy sector to invest $13.5 trillion in energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies between now and 2030, at an annual average of $840 billion. IEA executive director Fatih Birol

The report states that “actions in the energy sector can make or break efforts to achieve the world’s agreed climate goal”.

More than 150 countries have submitted pledges, accounting for around 90 per cent of global economic activity and almost 90 per cent of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions today. By world region, all of the countries in North America have submitted pledges, almost all in Europe, around 90 per cent in Africa, two-thirds in developing Asia, 60 per cent in Latin America and one-third in the Middle East. These countries currently account for around 90 per cent of global fossil fuel demand and almost 80 per cent of global fossil fuel production.

The form of the pledges varies, including concrete emissions targets, deviation from ‘business-as-usual’ emissions trajectories, emissions intensity targets, reductions or limitations in per-capita emissions, or statements regarding policies and measures to be implemented.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said that the fact that more than 150 countries have submitted pledges to reduce emissions is “remarkable”.

“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 briefing finds that all of the pledges 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 per cent of additional electricity generation to 2030 would be low-carbon.

And the power sector – the world’s largest source of energy-related CO2 emissions – would see emissions plateau at close to today’s levels, “effectively breaking the link between rising electricity demand and rising related CO2 emissions”.

The report finds that the full implementation of the pledges will require the energy sector to invest $13.5 trillion in energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies from 2015 to 2030, working out at an annual average of $840 billion.

However, despite these efforts, the IEA states that 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”.

Birol added: “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.”  

The IEA stresses that “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”.

Full IEA briefing document: World Energy Outlook (WEO) special briefing  

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