IEA: Current energy policies insufficient to reach climate goals

Illustration (Photo: flickr/Olearys)

Renewable energy technologies must be considerably ramped up in order to meet long-term climate change targets and governments need to support large-scale deployments with the necessary policies, the International Energy Agency (IES) said in its latest report.

The Energy Technology Perspectives 2017 (ETP) highlights that decisive policy actions and market signals will be needed to drive technological development and benefit from higher electrification around the world.

Still, current government policies are not sufficient to achieve long-term global climate goals, as only 3 out of 26 assessed technologies remain ‘on track’ to meet climate objectives, according to the IEA analysis.

Where the policies have provided clean signals, progress has been substantial, the IEA said in its ETP 2017 report that analyzes how the energy trends will play out in the next four decades.

Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director, said: “As costs decline, we will need a sustained focus on all energy technologies to reach long-term climate targets. Some are progressing, but too few are on track, and this puts pressure on others. It is important to remember that speeding the rate of technological progress can help strengthen economies, boost energy security while also improving energy sustainability.”

ETP 2017’s base case scenario, known as the Reference Technology Scenario (RTS), takes into account existing energy and climate commitments, including those made under the Paris Agreement.

Another scenario, called 2DS, shows a pathway to limit the rise of global temperature to 2°C, and finds the global power sector could reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2060.

A second decarbonization scenario explores how much available technologies and those in the innovation pipeline could be pushed to put the energy sector on a trajectory beyond 2DS.

It shows how the energy sector could become carbon neutral by 2060 if known technology innovations were pushed to the limit. But to do so would require an unprecedented level of policy action and effort from all stakeholders, the IEA said.

The report finds that policies to support energy technology innovation at all stages, from research to full deployment, will be critical to reap energy security, environmental and economic benefits of energy system transformations.

It also suggests that the most important challenge for energy policy makers will be to move away from a siloed perspective towards one that enables systems integration.