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IEA-IRENA: far greater cooperation is needed for the world to meet its climate commitments

The first annual Breakthrough Agenda Report, requested by 45 world leaders, noted an increase in practical international cooperation in recent years. However, the report also warned that far greater cooperation is needed to get the world on track to meet its climate commitments.

The Breakthrough Agenda aims to align countries’ actions and coordinate investment to scale up deployment and drive down costs across five key sectors including power, road transport, steel, hydrogen and agriculture. Together, these sectors account for nearly 60 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions today and could deliver the bulk of the emission reductions needed by 2030.

The report has highlighted great progress in deploying the technologies needed, including a doubling of EVs sales in 2021 from the previous year, to a new record of 6.6 million; a forecast increase in global renewable capacity of 8 per cent in 2022, pushing through the 300 gigawatts (GW) mark for the first time; and, forecast global electricity generation cost reduction of at least 55 billion US dollars in 2022, based on new renewable capacity added in 2021.

“We are in the midst of the first truly global energy crisis, with devastating knock-on consequences across the world economy, especially in developing countries. Only by speeding up the transition to clean sustainable energy can we achieve lasting energy security,’’ said IEA Executive Director, Fatih Birol. “Through international collaboration, we can make the transition quicker, cheaper and easier for everyone – on the back of faster innovation, greater economies of scale, bigger incentives to invest, level playing fields and benefits that are shared across all parts of society. Without this collaboration, the transition to net zero emissions will be much more challenging and could be delayed by decades.”

“The energy and climate crisis has exposed the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of a system heavily reliant on fuels of the 20th century. Anything short of radical and immediate action will ultimately eliminate the chance of staying on the 1.5°C path,” added Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA. “The Breakthrough Agenda and our joint report send a strong signal ahead of COP27 that greater international collaboration can amplify ambition and accelerate progress. Advancing the transition to renewables is a strategic choice to bring affordable energy, jobs, economic growth and a cleaner environment to the people on the ground.”

The report puts forward 25 recommendations for leaders to discuss at the Global Clean Energy Action Forum and the 13th Clean Energy Ministerial to be held in Pittsburgh, United States, from 21-23 September 2022. These include, to demonstrate and test flexible low-carbon power systems to expand the range of solutions and increase the share of variable renewables; to create new cross-border super grids this decade to increase trade in low-carbon power, reduce emissions, improve energy security and enhance system flexibility; to set up new international centres of expertise to channel finance and technical assistance to help coal-producing countries’ transition; to agree a common definition and target dates by which all new road vehicles will be net zero, targeting 2035 for cars and vans and the 2040s for heavy-duty vehicles; to mobilise investment in charging infrastructure, including prioritised assistance for developing countries and harmonise international charging standards to drive investment and accelerate adoption globally; and to standardise to boost the recyclability of batteries and supercharging research into alternative chemistries for batteries to reduce reliance on precious metals, such as cobalt and lithium

Research from the International Energy Agency showed that without international collaboration, the transition to net-zero global emissions could be delayed by decades. And IRENA estimates cited by the report suggested that an energy transition aligned with limiting global temperature increase to 1.5°C could create close to 85 million additional jobs by 2030 compared to 2019, more than offsetting losses of 12 million jobs.

“This report highlights the need to ensure affordable access to clean and green sources of energy for all,” underlined Dr Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for Egypt. “This is also a strong reminder of the need for a focus on implementation, which must be the priority at the national, regional and local level, in order to have the necessary impact globally as well as the need for mobilisation of appropriate finance.”

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