IEA calls for ‘sharp acceleration in clean energy innovation

A new special report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) has found that, without ‘a major acceleration in clean energy innovation’, countries and companies around the world will be unable to fulfil their pledges to bring their carbon emissions down to net-zero in the coming decades.

Published today on 2 July, the Special Report on Clean Energy Innovation maintained that a ‘significant part of the challenge’ comes from ‘major sectors where there are currently few technologies available for reducing emissions to zero, such as shipping, trucking, aviation and heavy industries’.

‘There is a stark disconnect today between the climate goals that governments and companies have set for themselves and the current state of affordable and reliable energy technologies that can realise these goals,’ said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director.

‘This report examines how quickly energy innovation would have to move forward to bring all parts of the economy – including challenging sectors like long-distance transport and heavy industry – to net-zero emissions by 2050 without drastic changes to how we go about our lives. This analysis shows that getting there would hinge on technologies that have not yet even reached the market today. The message is very clear: in the absence of much faster clean energy innovation, achieving net-zero goals in 2050 will be all but impossible.’

The IEA alos warned that the Covid-19 crisis is ‘threatening to further undermine projects around the world focused on developing vital new energy technologies’.

Dr Birol commented: ‘A recent IEA survey revealed that companies that are developing net-zero emissions technologies consider it likely that their research and development budgets will be reduced, a clear sign of the damage that the Covid-19 crisis could do to clean energy innovation. Now is not the time to weaken support for this essential work. If anything, it is time to strengthen it.

‘Together with the Sustainable Recovery Plan that the IEA presented last month, this innovation report will provide the foundation for the IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit on 9 July. The Summit will be the most important global event on energy and climate issues of 2020, bringing together more than 40 government ministers, industry CEOs and other energy leaders from countries representing 80% of global energy use and emissions. The aim is to build a grand coalition to help drive economic development and job creation by accelerating transitions towards clean, resilient and inclusive energy systems.’

Lesley Bankes-Hughes

Lesley Bankes-Hughes