IEA head says growth in renewables needs to be paired with coal plant closures
Carbon emissions from the energy sector are on track to grow for the second year running, in a major blow to hopes the world might have turned the corner on tackling climate change.
Preliminary analysis by the world’s energy watchdog shows the industry’s emissions have continued to rise in 2018, suggesting that an increase last year was not a one-off.
The finding comes as the world’s leading climate scientists issue a landmark report on whether the world can meet a tougher global warming target, of limiting temperature rises to 1.5C.
Dr Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), told the Guardian: “When I look at the first nine months of data, I expect in 2018 carbon emissions will increase once again. This is definitely worrying news for our climate goals. We need to see a steep decline in emissions. We are not seeing even flat emissions.”
Emissions largely flatlined in 2014–16 after climbing for decades, raising hopes that global action on climate change was beginning to turn the tide – but in 2017 they grew by 1.4%.
The IEA would not say exactly how much emissions were up this year, as it will not publish official figures until March 2019, but confirmed they had definitely risen to a historic high so far.
Indications that the trend has continued and was not a blip means the Paris climate deal’s target of keeping temperatures well below 2C – let alone the 1.5C being discussed this week – looks increasingly out of reach.
Birol said the growing carbon pollution was a result of the global economy driving coal, oil and gas use. “Energy efficiency improvements and renewables are not good enough to reverse that,” he added.
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