Renewable energy growing too slowly to tackle climate change: IEA report

Renewable energy will provide 30% of the world’s electric power generation by 2023, but its low penetration in the transportation and heat sectors is a major ‘blind spot’, according to International Energy Agency (IEA) executive director Fatih Birol.

Paris-based policy advisor IEA published its latest annual report Renewables 2018, which advised world leaders to ramp up adoption of renewable energy, especially beyond the electricity sector in order to effectively combat climate change.

Despite strong growth in the electric power sector, the report found that renewables will only account for 12.4% of the world’s energy demand in five years time. Much of the world’s energy is consumed in the transportation and heating industries.

“Indeed, their [renewables] role in heat and transport is often overlooked even though decarbonising these sectors is a key priority to achieve our long-term climate and sustainability goals,” said Birol.

The report also forecasted that renewables would only meet 18% of global energy demand by 2040 at the current pace of development, far short of the 28% threshold that IEA believes is necessary to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the planet.

In a UN report published yesterday, the world’s leading scientists warned that there are only 12 years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, before major environmental catastrophes begin to take hold.

IEA also said that renewable energy could grow 25% faster if governments provide full backing to the clean energy industry through policies and regulations that would give companies and investors confidence in the sector.

The group now expects renewables to meet 40% of new global energy demand between 2018 and 2023.