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Clock is ticking

"The scale and speed of the efforts demanded by this critical and formidable goal – our best chance of tackling climate change and limiting global warming to 1.5 °C – make this perhaps the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced.”

The IEA has so far been less conspicuous for its flaming appeals (Image: Pixabay)The IEA has so far been less conspicuous for its flaming appeals (Image: Pixabay)

More than a few business managers will probably roll their eyes in annoyance at these words and ask themselves into which camera Greta Thunberg has spoken this time. The climate activist and co-founder of the Fridays for Future movement has become the bogeyman of many in industry with her constantly admonishing words and repeatedly triggers overly violent reactions.

However, the quote does not come from the young Swede, but from Fatih Birol, Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), an organisation that has so far mainly attracted attention with rather conservative forecasts on the energy transition. The IEA was originally founded for joint action by 16 nations against the oil crisis in the 1970s. To this day, it has distinguished itself as particularly pro-nuclear, which repeatedly triggers criticism from the renewable energy industry, whose performance has at the same time been underestimated by the IEA.

So now these words of warning were published together with a roadmap that shows a path to the goal of net zero by 2050. But will humanity still be able to achieve this goal? Even the IEA now doubts it. The new report, released on Tuesday, outlines a net-zero path that requires the immediate and massive deployment of all available clean and efficient energy technologies, combined with a major global push to accelerate innovation. At the same time, no new oil and gas fields are to be developed with immediate effect.

No more new coal, gas and oil. With immediate effect (Image: IEA)

The path envisages that the annual addition of photovoltaic plants should reach 630 gigawatts and that of wind power 390 GW by 2030. For comparison: together, this is four times the record level of 2020. In the case of photovoltaics, it is roughly equivalent to the installation of the world's largest solar park at present - per day.

"The clean energy transition is for and about people," Birol said. The roadmap shows that an enormous challenge is necessary, but at the same time "a huge opportunity for our economies. The transition must be fair and inclusive, leaving nobody behind. We have to ensure that developing economies receive the financing and technological know-how they need to build out their energy systems to meet the needs of their expanding populations and economies in a sustainable way.”

This includes providing electricity to some 785 million people who so far have no access to electricity. It would also have to support 2.6 billion people who do not have access to clean cooking facilities. The costs for this amount to about 40 billion US dollars per year, which corresponds to about 1% of the average annual investment in the energy sector.

The report was commissioned by the British government, which is hosting the COP26 climate conference in November. The summit was originally scheduled for last year, but had to be postponed due to the corona pandemic.

There must be no further postponement.

Katrin Radtke
IEA, report, energy transition, clean, effort, humanity, Greta Thunberg, goal, climate change, electricity, renewable energy

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